Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "History of California"

See other formats











VOL. VI. 1848-1859 





Your name is great 

In mouths of wisest censure. 

Othello, Act II 









VOL. VI. 1848-1859. 



Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1888, by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All Rights Reserved. 

V . 




January, 1848. 


The Valley of California Quality of Population The Later Incomers 
Kispano American, Anglo-American, and Others Settlers around 
San Francisco Bay San Jose The Peninsula San Francisco 
Across the Bay Alameda and Contra Costa Valleys Valleys of the 
San Joaquin and Sacramento Sutter s Fort Grants and Ranchos^- 
About Carquines Strait Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa Valleys 
San Rafael, Bodega, and the Northern Coast Natural Wealth and 
Environment 1 



January, 1848. 

Situation of Sutter His Need of Lumber Search for a Mill Site in the 
Mountains Culuma James W. Marshall The Building of a Saw 
mill Determined upon A Party Sets Forth Its Personnel Char 
acter of Marshall The Finding of Gold What Marshall and his 
Men Thought of It Marshall Rides to New Helvetia and Informs 
Sutter The Interview Sutter Visits the Mill Attempt to Secure 
the Indian Title to the Land 26 



February, 1848. 

Bennett Goes to Monterey Sees Pfister at Benicia There is What will 
Beat Coal! Bennett Meets Isaac Humphrey at San Francisco Un 
successful at Monterey Sutter s Swiss Teamster The Boy Wimmer 
Tells Him of the Gold The Mother Wimmer, to Prove her Boy not a 
Liar, Shows It And the Teamster, Who is Thirsty, Shows It at the 
Fort Affairs at the Mill Proceed as Usual Bigler s Sunday Medi 
tations Gold Found at Live Oak Bar Bigler Writes his Three 





Friends the Secret Who Unite with Them Other Three to Help 
Them Keep It Three Come to Coloma Discovery at Mormon Island 
The Mormon Exit. . . 42 



March- August, 1848. 

The People Sceptical at First Attitude of the Press The Country 
Converted by a Sight of the Metal The Epidemic at San Francisco 
At San Jose, Monterey, and down the Coast The Exodus De 
sertion of Soldiers and Sailors Abandonment of Business, of Farms, 
and of All Kinds of Positions and Property 52 



March-December, 1848. 

Isaac Humphrey again Bidwell and his Bar Reading and his Indians 
on Clear Creek Population in the Mines On Feather River and 
the Yuba John Sinclair on the American River The Irishman 
Yankee Jim Dr Todd in Todd Valley Kelsey Weber on Weber 
Creek The Stockton Mining Company Murphy Hangtown On 
the Stanislaus Knight, Wood, Savage, and Heffernan Party from 
Oregon On the Mokelumne and Cosumnes The Sonorans on the 
Tuolumne Coronel and Party 67 



Variety of Social Phases Individuality of the Year 1848 Noticeable 
Absence of Bad Characters during this Year Mining Operations 
Ignorance of the Miners of Mining Implements and Processes 
Yield in the Different Districts Price of Gold-dust Prices of Mer 
chandise A New Order of Things Extension of Development 
Affairs at Sutter s Fort Bibliography Effect on Sutter and Marshall 
Character and Career of These Two Men . . 82 




The Real Effects Eternal How the Intelligence was Carried over the 
Sierra To the Hawaiian Islands British Columbia Oregon and 
Washington The Tidings in Mexico Mason s Messenger in Wash- 



ington California Gold at the War Office At the Philadelphia 
Mint The Newspaper Press upon the Subject Bibliography 
Greeley s Prophecies Industrial Stimulation Overland and Oceanic 
Routes General Effect in the Eastern States and Europe Interest 
in Asia, South America, and Australia 110 




Modern Argonauts Pacific Mail Steamship Company Establishment of 
the Mail Line from New York via Panama to Oregon Sailing of the 
First Steamers San Francisco Made the Terminus The Panama 
Transit The First Rush of Gold-seekers Disappointments at Pan 
ama Sufferings on the Voyage Arrivals of Notable Men by the 
First Steamship 126 



Organization of Parties Brittle Contracts of These Associations Missis 
sippi River Rendezvous On the Trail Overland Routine Along 
the Platte Through the South Pass Cholera The Different Routes 
-Across the Desert Trials of the Pilgrims Starvation, Disease, 
and Death Passage of the Sierra Nevada Relief Parties from 
California Route through Mexico Estimates of the Numbers of 
Arrivals Bewilderment of the Incomers Regeneration and a New 
Life 143 




Site and Surroundings Rivals Effect of the Mines Shipping Influx 
of Population Physical and Commercial Aspects Business Firms 
Public and Private Buildings National Localities Hotels and Res 
taurants Prices Current Property Values Auction Sales 
Wharves and Streets Early Errors Historic Fires Engines and 
Companies Immigration and Speculation Politics The Hounds 
City Government 164 




Ingathering of Nationalities Peculiarities of Dress and Manners Phys 
ical and Moral Features Levelling of Rank and Position In the 



Mines Cholera Hardsmps and Self-denials A Community of Men 
Adulation of Woman Arrival and Departure of Steamers Sani 
tary Condition of San Francisco Rats and Other Vermin The 
Drinking Habit Amusements Gambling Lotteries and Raffles 
Bull and Bear Fighting The Drama Sunday in the Mines Sum 
mary 221 




The Slavery Question before Congress Inaction and Delay Military 
Rule in California Mexican Forms of Civil and Judicial Govern 
ment Maintained Federal Officials in California -Governor Mason 
Pranks of T. Butler King Governor Riley Legislative Assembly 
Constitutional Convention at Monterey Some Biographies Per- 
sonnel of the Convention Money Matters Adoption of the Consti 
tution Election ... 251 




The First Legislature Qrestioii of State Capital Meeting of the Legis 
lature at San Jose Organization and Acts Personnel of the Body 
State Officers Further State Capital Schemes California in Con 
gress Impending I3sues Slavery or No Slavery Admission into 
the Union California Rejoices 308 




Extent of Gold Region in 1848-9 American River the Centre El Do 
rado County South Fork and Southward Middle Branch Placer, 
Nevada, Yuba, Sierra, Plumas, Butte, and Shasta Counties Trinity 
and Klamath Gold Bluff Excitement, 1850-1 Del Norte, Hum- 
boldt, and Siskiyou In the South Amador, Calaveras, and Tuol- 
umne Table Mountain Mariposa, Kern, San Bernardino Los 
Angeles and San Diego Along the Ocean _ 351 




Physical Formation of the California Valley The Three Geologic Belts 
Physical Aspect of the Gold Regions Geologic Formations In- 



dications that Influence the Prospector Origin of Rushes and Camps 
Society along the Foothills Hut and Camp Life Sunday in the 
Mines Catalogue of California Mining Rushes Mariposa, Kern, 
Ocean Beach, Nevada, Gold Lake, Lost Cabin, Gold Bluff, Siskiyou, 
Sonora, Australia, Fraser River, Nevada, Colorado, and the Rest 
Mining Laws and Regulations Mining Tax Discrimination against 
Foreigners 381 




Primitive Mining Machinery Improved Means for Poor Diggings 
California Inventions Tom, Sluice, Fluming Hydraulic Mining 
Ditches, Shafts, and Tunnels Quartz Mining The First Mills Ex 
citement, Failure, and Revival Improved Machinery Coopera 
tion Yield Average Gains Cost of Gold Evil and Beneficial 
Effects of Mining 409 




Mexican Town-maKing Mission, Presidio, and Pueblo The Anglo- 
American Method Clearing away the Wilderness The American 
Municipal Idea Necessities Attending Self-government Home 
made Laws and Justice Arbitration and Litigation Camp and 
Town Sites Creation of Counties Nomenclature Rivers and Har 
bors Industries and Progress 429 




The Great Interior River and Plain Sutterville and Sacramento Plan 
of Survey The Thrice Simple Swiss Better for the Country than 
a Better Man Healthy and Hearty Competition Development of 
Sacramento City Marysville Stockton Placerville Sonora Ne 
vada Grass Valley Benicia Valle jo Martinez Oakland and Vi 
cinity Northern and Southern Cities 446 




Affairs under the Hispano-Californians Coming of the Anglo-Americans 
El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, and Other Counties North 
and South Their Origin, Industries, Wealth, and Progress 481 






The Colonization System Land Grants by Spain and Mexico Informal 
ities of Title Treaty Obligations of the United States Effect of the 
Gold Discovery The Squatters Reports of Jones and Halleck 
Discussions in Congress Fremont, Benton, and Gwin The Act of 
1851 The Land Commission Progress and Statistics of Litigation 
Principles Floating Grants Surveys Fraudulent Claims Speci 
men Cases Castillero Fremont Gomez Limantour Peralta 
Santillan Sutter Vallejo Mission Lands Friars, Neophytes, 
and Church Pico s Sales Archbishop s Claim Pueblo Lands The 
Case of San Francisco Statistics of 1880 More of Squatterism 
Black and Jones Attempts to Reopen Litigation General Conclu 
sions The Act of 1851 Oppressive and Ruinous What should have 
been Done 529 



Attractions of Spanish America to Unprincipled Men of the United 
States Filibustering in Texas The Morehead Expedition from 
California to Mexico Failure Charles de Pin dray s Efforts and 
Death Raoulx de Raousset-Boulbon s Attempts at Destruction 
Capture of Hermosillo and Return to San Francisco Trial of Del 
Valle Raousset s Death at Guaymas Walker s Operations Re 
public of Lower California Walker in Sonora Walker in Nicara 
gua His Execution in Honduras Crabb, the Stockton Lawyer .... 582 




An Empty Treasury Temporary State Loan Act State Debt Licenses 
and Taxation Extravagance and Peculation Alarming Increase of 
Debt Bonds State Indebtedness Illegal Repudiation Rejected 
Thieving Officials Enormous Payments to Steamship Companies 
Federal Appropriations Indian Agents Mint Navy-yard Fortifi 
cations Coast Survey Land Commission Public Lands Home 
stead Act Educational Interests The People above All 604 




Quality of our Early Rulers Governor Burnett Governor McDougal 
Senatorial Election Sowing Dragon s Teeth Democratic Conven- 


tion Senator Gwin, the Almighty Providence of California Party 
Issues Governor Bigler Broderick White vs Black Slavery or 
Death ! Legislative Proceedings Talk of a New Constitution 
Whigs, Democrats, and Independents Another Legislature 643 




Warm and Wicked Election One Party tho Same aa Another, only 
Worse Senatorial Contest Broderick s Election Bill Bitter Feuds 
A Two-edged Convention Bigler s Administration Rise and Fall 
of the Knowiiothing Party Gwin s Sale of Patronage Broderick in 
Congress He is Misrepresented and Maligned Another Election 
Chivalry and Slavery Broderick s Death Determined on The Duel 
Character of Broderick 678 




State of Society Miners Courts Crimes and Punishments Criminal 
Class The Hounds Berdue and Wildred Organized Ruffianism 
Committees of Vigilance The Jenkins Affair Villanous Law Courts 
James Stuart Political and Judicial Corruption James King of 
William His Assassination Seizure, Trial, and Execution of Crim 
inals A Vacillating Governor A Bloody-minded Judge Attitude 
of United States Officials Success of the San Francisco Vigilance 
Committee under Trying Circumstances Disbandment 740 




A Period of Trials Land Titles City Limits Mexican Grants Spu 
rious Claims Water Lots Fluctuations of Values The Van Ness 
Ordinance Villanous Administration A New Charter Municipal 
Maladministration Popular Protests Honest and Genial Villains 
Increased Taxation Vigilance Movements Reforms Another 
Charter Real Estate Sales The Baptism by Fire and Blood Ma 
terial and Social Progress Schools, Churches, and Benevolent Socie 
tiesThe Transformed City 75 



JANUARY, 1848. 



ALTHOUGH the California seaboard, from San Diego 
to San Francisco bays, had been explored by Euro 
peans for three hundred years, and had been occu 
pied by missionary and military bands, with a 
sprinkling of settlers, for three quarters of a century, 
the great valley of the interior, at the opening of the 
year 1848, remained practically undisturbed by civili 

The whole of Alta California comprises a seaboard 
strip eight hundred miles in length by one or two 
hundred in width, marked off from the western earth s 
end of the temperate zone; it was the last to be occu 
pied by civilized man, and, to say the least, as full of 
fair conditions as any along the belt. The whole 
area is rimmed on either side, the Coast Range roll 
ing up in stony waves along the outer edge, and for 

VOL. VI. 1 


background the lofty Sierra, upheaved in crumpled 
folds from primeval ocean. The intervening space is 
somewhere overspread with hills and vales, but for 
the most part comprises an oblong plain, the Valley 
of California, the northern portion being called the 
Sacramento Valley, and the southern the San Joa- 
quin Valley, from the names of the streams that 
water the respective parts. The prospect thus pre 
sented opens toward the setting sun. 

Humanity here is varied. There is already round 
San Francisco Bay raw material enough of divers 
types to develop a new race, howsoever inferior the 
quality might be. It is a kind of refuse lot, blown 
in partly from the ocean, and in part having perco 
lated through the mountains; yet there is amidst the 
chaff good seed that time and events might winnow. 
But time and events are destined here to be employed 
for higher purpose, in the fashioning of nobler metal. 

Of the condition of the aborigines I have spoken 
elsewhere, and shall presently speak again. So far 
the withering influence of a strange civilization upon 
the true proprietors of the soil had emanated from 
Mexican incomers. Now a stronger phase of it is 
appearing in another influx, which is to overwhelm 
both of the existing races, and which, like the original 
invasion of Mexico, of America, is to consist of a fair- 
hued people from toward the rising sun. They come 
not as their predecessors came, slowly, in the shadow 
of the cross, or aggressively, with sword and firelock. 
Quietly, with deferential air, they drop in asking 
hospitality; first as way-worn stragglers from trap 
ping expeditions, or as deserting sailors from vessels 
prowling along the coast in quest of trade and secrets. 
Then compact bands of restless frontier settlers 
slip over the border, followed by the firmer tread of 
determined pioneers, who wait /or strength and 
opportunity. Not being as yet formally ceded, the 
land remains under a mingled military-civil govern 
ment, wherein Hispano-Californians still control local 


management in the south, while in the north men 
from the United States predominate* 

These later arrivals are already nearly equal numeri 
cally to the former, numbering somewhat over 6,000, 
while the Hispano-Californians may be placed at 
1,000 more. The ex-neophyte natives in and about 
the ranches and towns are estimated at from 3,000 
to 4,000, with twice as many among the gentile tribes. 
The new element, classed as foreign before the con 
quest of 1846, had from 150 in 1830 grown slowly till 
1845, after which it took a bound, assisted by over 
2,000 who came as soldiers in the regular and volunteer 
corps, not including the naval muster-rolls. These 
troops served to check another sudden influx contem 
plated by the migrating Mormons, whose economic 
value as colonists cannot be questioned, in view of 
their honesty and thrift. An advance column of about 
200 had come in 1846, followed by the Mormon battal 
ion in the United States service, 350 strong, of which 
a portion remained. The first steady stream of immi 
grants is composed of stalwart, restless backwoods 
men from the western frontier of the United States; 
self-reliant, and of ready resource in building homes, 
even if less enterprising and broadly utilitarian than 
those who followed them from the eastern states; 
the latter full of latent vivacity; of strong intellect, 
here quickening under electric air and new environ 
ment; high-strung, attenuated, grave, shrewd, and 
practical, and with impressive positiveness. 

By the side of the Americanized Anglo-Saxon, 
elevated by vitalizing freedom of thought and inter 
course with nature, we find the English representa 
tive, burly of mind and body, full of animal energy, 
marked by aggressive stubbornness, tinctured with 
brusqueness and conceit. More sympathetic and self- 
adaptive than the arrogant and prejudiced English 
man, or the coldly calculating Scot, is the omnipresent, 
quick-witted Celt, and the easy-going, plodding Ger 
man, with his love of knowledge and deep solidity of 


mind. Intermediate between these races and the 
native Californian stands the pure-blooded Spaniard, 
wrapped in the reflection of ancestral preeminence, 
and using his superior excellence as a means to affirm 
his foothold among humbler race connections. An 
approximate affinity of blood and language here paves 
the way for the imaginative though superficial French 
man and Italian, no less polite than insincere, yet 
cheerful and aBsthetic. A few Hawaiian Islanders 
have been brought over, and are tolerated until 
prouder people press them back and under. 

Even now events are giving a decisive predomi 
nance to the lately inflowing migration, by reason of 
the energy displayed in the rapid extension of indus 
trial arts, notably agriculture, with improved methods 
and machinery, and growing traffic with such standard- 
bearers of civilization as the public press and a steam 
boat. So far this influx has confined itself to the 
central part of the state, round San Francisco Bay and 
northward, because the gateway for the immigration 
across the plains opens into this section, which more 
over presents equal if not superior agricultural features, 
and greater commercial prospects. The occupation of 
the south by a different race serves naturally to point 
out and affirm the limits. 

San Jose, founded as a pueblo within the first dec 
ade of Spanish occupation, and now grown into a 
respectable town of about 700 inhabitants, is the 
most prominent of the northern settlements wherein 
the Hispano-Californian element still predominates. 
Notwithstanding the incipient greatness of the city at 
the Gate, San Jose holds high pretensions as a central 
inland town, on the border line between the settled 
south and the growing north, with aspirations to sup 
plant Monterey as the capital. This accounts in a 
measure for the large inflowing of foreigners, who have 
lately acquired sufficient influence to elect the alcalde 
from among themselves, the present incumbent being 
James W. Weeks. The fertile valley around counts 




among its numerous farmers several of them, notably 
the Scotch sailor, John Gilroy, 1 who in 1814 became 
the first foreigner permanently to settle in California, 
and Thomas W. Doak, who arrived two years later, 
the first American settler. North of San Jose and 
the adjoining Santa Clara mission, 2 where Padre Real 
holds out manfully against claimants, are several set 
tlers clustering round the present Alviscx 3 Westward 
Rafael Soto has established a landing at San Fran- 
cisquito Creek, and Whisman has located himself a 
dozen miles below. 4 

Along the eastern slope of the peninsula leads a 
well-worn road past scattered ranchos, among which 
are those of John Cooper on San Mateo Creek, and 
John Coppinger on Canada de Raimundo; and near 
by are Dennis Martin and Charles Brown, the latter 
having just erected a saw-mill. 5 

San Francisco, at the end of the peninsula, however 
ill-favored the site in some respects, seems topographi 
cally marked for greatness, rising on a series of hills, 
with a great harbor on one side, a great ocean on the 
other, and mighty waters ever passing by to the outlet 
of the wide-spread river system of the country. It is 
already in many respects the most thriving town in 
California, the prospective metropolis of the coast, with 
200 buildings and 800 inhabitants, governed by Alcalde 

1 The town bearing his name, in the southern part of the valley, is situated 
on his former rancho. Other early settlers were Mat. Fellora, Harry Bee, 
John Burton, J. A, Forbes, J. W. Weeks, and Wm Gulnac, who in 1842 
joined Weber in erecting a flour-mill. 

2 Brannan & Co. had a tannery at this place. 

5 Including the families of Alviso, Berreyesa, Valencia, John Martin, and 
Leo Norris, the latter an American, on Cherro rancho. 

*Near the present Mountain View. J. W. Whisman was in 1848 joined 
by I. Whisman. J. Coppinger lived for a time on Soto s rancho, married to 
his daughter. S. Robles had bought Santa Rita rancho from J. Pena. 

5 Called Mountain Home. The last two had settled near the present 
Woods! de. G. F. Wyman and James Peace were also in the same vicinity , 
the latter as lumberer. The leading grants were Las Pulgas of Luis Argiiello, 
35, 000 acres; San Gregorio of A. Buelna, 18,000 acres; BuriBuriof I. Sanchez, 
14,600 acres; Canada de Raimundo of J. Coppinger, 12,500 acres; Canada del 
Corte de Madera of M. Martinez, 13,000 acres. Other grants, ranging from 
9,000 to 4,000 acres, were San Pedro, Corral de Tierra, Felix, Miramontes, 
Canada Verde, San Antonio, Butano, and Punta del Afio Nuevo, following 


George Hyde and a sapient council. The population 
is chiefly composed of enterprising Americans, sturdy 
pioneers, with a due admixture of backwoodsmen 
and seafarers, numerous artisans, and a sprinkling of 
traders and professional men all stanch townsmen, 
figuring for beach lots at prices ranging as high as 
$600, and for local offices. There are rival districts 
struggling for supremacy, and two zealous weekly 

Less imposing are the immediate surroundings; 
for the town spreads out in a straggling crescent 
along the slope of the Clay-street hill, bordered by 
the converging inclines of Broadway and California 
streets on the north and south respectively. A thin 
coating of grass and melancholy shrubs covers the 
sandy surface between and around, with here and 
there patches of dwarfed oaks, old and decrepit, bend 
ing before the sweeping west wind. The monotony 
incident to Spanish and Mexican towns, however, 
with their low and bare adobe houses and sluggish 
population, is here relieved by the large proportion of 
compact wooden buildings in northern European style, 6 
and the greater activity of the dwellers. The beach, 
hollowed by the shallow Yerba Buena Cove, on which 
fronts the present Montgomery street, presents quite 
an animated scene for these sleepy shores, with its 
bales of merchandise strewn about, and piled-up boxes 
and barrels, its bustling or lounging frequenters, and 
its three projecting wharves; 7 while a short distance 
off lie scattered a few craft, including one or two 
ocean-going vessels. Farther away, fringed by the 
fading hills of Contra Costa, rises the isle of Yerba 
Buena, for which some wild goats shortly provide 
the new name of Goat Island- On its eastern side is a 
half-ruined rancheria, still braving the encroachments 
of time and culture. 

"There were 160 frame buildings and only 35 adobe houses, although the 
latter were more conspicuous by their length and brightness. 
7 At California, Clay, and Broadway streets. 


il ii i! i! II li ij 

..Jl i 1 Jl 1 1 il lL_JL 

f Irttl 


8 ^L . N : F & AN C 1 SO C 



In the rear of the town, which extends only be 
tween California and Vallejo streets to Powell on the 
west, from the direction of the Lone Mountain and 
beyond, comes a spur of the Coast Range, tipped by 
the Papas Peaks. To either side diverges a trail, one 
toward the inlet of the bay, where is the presidio 
enclosure, with its low adobe buildings, and to which 
the new American occupants have added frame houses, 
and earthworks with ordnance superior to the blatant 
muzzles of yore. Two miles to the south, beyond the 
sand hills, lies Mission Dolores, its dilapidated walls 
marked by darkened tile roofs, scantily relieved by 
clumps of trees and shrubs. The cheerless stone 
fences now enclose winter s verdure, and beyond the 
eddying creek, which flows through the adjoining 
fields, the sandy waste expands into inviting pasture, 
partly covered by the Rincon farm and government 
reserve. 8 

The opposite shores of the bay present a most beau 
tiful park-like expanse, the native lawn, brilliant with 
flowers, and dotted by eastward-bending oaks, watered 
by the creeks of Alameda, San Lorenzo, San Leandro, 
and their tributaries, and enclosed by the spurs of the 
Diablo mountains. It had early attracted settlers, 
whose grants now cover the entire ground. The first 
to occupy there was the Mission San Jose, famed for 
its orchards and vineyards, 9 and now counting among 
its tenants and settlers James F. Reed, Perry Mor 
rison, Earl Marshall, and John M. Horner ; 10 Below 
are the ranches of Agua Caliente and Los Tularcitos ; 
and above, Potrero de los Cerritos; 11 while behind, 
among encircling hills, is the valley of San Jose, the 
pathway to the Sacramento, and through which runs 

8 Padre P. Santillan, who afterward became conspicuous as a claimant to 
the mission ground, was in charge at Dolores. The Raucho Puuta de Lobos 
of B. Diaz extended to the north-west. 

9 In charge of Padre Real. The claim of Alvarado and Pico to the soil was 
later rejected. 

10 The latter a Mormon, living with his wife at the present Washington 
Corners, and subsequently prominent. 

11 The former two square leagues in extent, and transferred by A. Sufiol to 
F. Higueraj the latter three leagues, and held by A. Alviso and T. Pacheco. 


the upper Alameda. Here lives the venturesome 
English sailor, Robert Livermore, by whose name the 
nook is becoming known, and whose rapidly increasing 
possessions embrace stock-ranges, wheat-fields, vine 
yards, and orchards, with even a rude grist-mill. 12 Ad 
joining him are the ranchos Valle de San Jose of 
J. and A. Bernal, and Sunol and San Ramon of J. M. 
Amador, also known by his name. Northward, along 
the bay, lies the Rancho Arroyo de la Alameda of 
Jose Jesus Vallejo; the San Lorenzo of G. Castro 
and F. Soto; the San Leandro of J. J. Estudillo; the 
Sobrante of J. I. Castro; and in the hills and along 
the shore, covering the present Oakland and Alameda, 
the San Antonio of Luis M. Peralta and his sons. 13 

Similar to the Alameda Valley, and formed by the 
rear of the same range, enclosing the towering Monte 
del Diablo, lies the vale of Contra Costa, watered by 
several creeks, among them the San Pablo and San 
Ramon, or Walnut, and extending into the marshes 
of the San Joaquin. Here also the most desirable 
tracts are covered by grants, notably the San Pablo 
tract of F. Castro; El Pinole of Ignacio Martinez, 
with vineyards and orchards; the Acalanes of C. 
Valencia, on which are now settled Elam Brown, 
justice of the peace, and Nat. Jones; 14 the Palos 
Colorados of J. Moraga; the Monte del Diablo of S. 
Pacheco; the Medanos belonging to the Mesa fam 
ily; and the Meganos of Dr John Marsh, the said 
doctor being a kind of crank from Harvard college, 

12 His neighbor on Rancho Los Pozitos, of two square leagues, was Jose" 
Noriega; and west and south in the valley extended Rancho Valle de San 
Jose, 48,000 acres, Santa Rita, 9,000 acres, belonging to J. D. Pacheco, the 
San Ramon rancho of Amador, four square leagues, and Canada de los Va- 
queros of Livermore. Both Colton, Three Years, 266, and Taylor, El Dorado, 
i. 73, refer to the spot as Livermore Pass, leading from San Jos6 town to the 
valley of the Sacramento. 

13 D. Peralta received the Berkeley part, V. the Oakland, M. the East Oak 
land and Alameda, and I. the south-east. The grant covered five leagues. 
The extent of the Alameda, San Lorenzo, and San Leandro grants was in 
square leagues respectively about four, seven, and one; Sobrante was eleven 

u By purchase in 1847, the latter owning one tenth of the three-quarter 


who settled here in 1837, 15 in an adobe hut, and 
achieved distinction as a misanthrope and miser, 
sympathetic with the spirit at whose mountain s feet 
he crouched. 

The upper part of the San Joaquin Valley had so 
far been shunned by fixed settlers, owing to Indian 
hostility toward the Spanish race. With others the 
aborigines agreed better; and gaining their favor 
through the mediation of the influential Sutter, the 
German Charles M. Weber had located himself on 
French Camp rancho, which he sought to develop by 
introducing colonists. In this he had so far met with 
little success; but his farm prospering, arid his em 
ployes increasing, he laid out the town of Tuleburg, 
soon to rise into prominence under the new name of 
Stockton. 16 He foresaw the importance of the place 
as a station on the road to the Sacramento, and as the 
gateway to the San Joaquin, on which a settlement 
had been formed in 1846, as far up as the Stanislaus, 
by a party of Mormons. On the north bank of this 
tributary, a mile and a half from the San Joaquin, the 
migratory saints founded New Hope, or Stanislaus, 
which in April 1847 boasted ten or twelve colonists 
and several houses. Shortly afterward a summons 

15 He bought it from J. Noriega, and called it the Pulpunes; extent, three 
leagues by four. The San Pablo and Piuole covered four leagues each, the 
Palos Colorados three leagues, the Monte del Diablo, on which Pacheco had 
some 5,000 head of cattle, four leagues. The aggressive Indians had disturbed 
several settlers, killing F. Briones, driving away Wm Welch, who settled in 
1832, and the Romero brothers. Brown settled in 1847, and began to ship 
lumber to San Francisco. There were also the grants of Las Juntas of Wm 
Welch, three square leagues; Arroyo de las Nueces of J. S. Pacheco and 
Canada del Hambre of T. Soto, the two latter two square leagues each. 

16 Among the residents were B. K. Thompson, Eli Randall, Jos. Buzzell, 
Andrew Baker, James Sirey, H. F. Fanning, George Frazer, W. H. Fairchild, 
James McKee, Pyle, and many Mexicans and servants of Weber. See fur 
ther in Tinkham s Hist. Stockton; San Joaquin Co. Hist.; Gal. Star, May 13, 
1848, etc. Taylor reports two log cabins on the site in 1847, those of Buzzell 
and Sirey. Nic. Gann s wife, while halting in Oct. 1847, gave birth to a son, 
William. The name French Camp came from the trappers who frequently 
camped here. T. Lindsay, while in charge in 1845, was killed by Indian 
raiders. The war of 1847 had caused an exodus of proposed settlers. 


from Salt Lake came to assist the floods in breaking 
up the colony. 17 

North of Stockton Dr J. C. Isbel settled on the 
Calaveras, and Turner Elder on the Mokelumne, 
together with Smith and Edward Robinson. 18 The 
latter, on Dry Creek tributary, has for a neighbor 
Thomas Rhoads, three of whose daughters married T. 
Elder, William Daylor an English sailor, and Jared 
Sheldon. The last two occupy their grants on the 
north bank of the Cosumnes, well stocked, and sup 
porting a grist-mill. Along the south bank extend 
the grants of Hartnell and San Jon de los Moque- 
lumnes, occupied by Martin Murphy, Jr, and Anas- 
tasio Chaboila. South of them lies the Rancho 
Arroyo Seco of T, Yorba, on Dry Creek, where 
William Hicks holds a stock-range. 19 

The radiating point for all these settlements of the 
Great Valley, south and north, is Sutter s Fort, 
founded as its first settlement, in 1839, by the enter 
prising Swiss, John A. Sutter. It stands on a small 
hill, skirted by a creek which runs into the American 
River near its junction with the Sacramento, and 
overlooking a vast extent of ditch-enclosed fields and 
park stock-ranges, broken by groves and belts of tim 
ber. At this time and for three months to come 
there is no sign of town or "habitation around what is 
now Sacramento, except this fortress, and one old 
adobe, called the hospital, east of the fort. A garden 

17 Stout, the leader, had given dissatisfaction. Buckland, the last to leave, 
moved to Stockton. The place is also called Stanislaus City. Bigler, Diary, 
MS., 48-9, speaks of a Mormon settlement on the Merced, meaning the above. 

18 The former on Dry Creek, near the present Liberty, which he transferred 
to Robinson, married to his aunt, and removed to the Mokelumne, where 
twins were born in November 1847; he then proceeded to Daylor s. Thomas 
Pyle settled near Lockeford, but transferred his place to Smith. 

19 The Chaboila, Hartnell, Sheldon-Day lor, and Yorba grants were 8, 6, 
5, and 11 leagues in extent, respectively. The claims of E. Rufus and E. 
Pratt, north of the Cosumnes, failed to be condoned. Cat. Star, Oct. 23, 1847, 
alludes to the flouring mill on Sheldon s rancho. See Suiter s Pers. Rem. , MS., 
162, in which Taylor arid Chamberlain are said to live on the Cosumnes. In 
the San Joaquin district were three eleven-league and one eight-league grants 
claimed by Jos6 Castro, John Rowland, B. S. Lippincott, and A. B. Thompson, 
all rejected except the last. 


of eight or ten acres was attached to the fort, laid 
out with taste arid skill, where flourished all kinds of 
vegetables, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, olives, figs, 
and almonds. Horses, cattle, and sheep cover the 
surrounding plains; boats lie at the erabarcadero. 

The fort is a parallelogram of adobe walls, 500 feet 
long by 150 in breadth, with loop-holes and bastions 
at the angles, mounted with a dozen cannon that 
sweep the curtains. Within is a collection of gran 
aries and warehouses, shops and stores, dwellings 
and outhouses, extending near and along the walls 
round the central building occupied by the Swiss 
potentate, who holds sway as patriarch and priest, 
judge and father. The interior of the houses is rough, 
with rafters and unpanelled walls, with benches and 
deal tables, the exception being the audience-room 
and private apartments of the owner, who has ob 
tained from the Russians a clumsy set of California 
laurel furniture. 20 In front of the main building, on 
the small square, is a brass gun, guarded by the 
sentinel, whose measured tramp, lost in the hum of 
day, marks the stillness of the night, and stops alone 
beneath the belfry-post to chime the passing hour. 

Throughout the day the enclosure presents an 
animated scene of work and trafficking, by bustling 
laborers, diligent mechanics, and eager traders, all to 
the chorus clang of the smithy and reverberating 
strokes of the carpenters. Horsemen dash to and fro 
at the bidding of duty and pleasure, and an occasional 
wagon creaks along upon the gravelly road-bed, sure 
to pause for recuperating purposes before the trad 
ing store, 21 where confused voices mingle with laugh 
ter and the sometimes discordant strains of drunken 

20 The first made in the country, he says, and strikingly superior to the 
crude furniture of the Calif ornians, with rawhide and bullock -head chairs and 
bed -stretchers. Suiter s Pers. JRem., MS., 164, et seq. Bryant describes the 
dining-room as having merely benches and deal table, yet displaying silver 
spoons and China bowls, the latter serving for dishes as well as cups. What I 
Saw, 269-70. 

21 One kept by Smith and Brannan. Prices at this time were $1 a foot for 
horse-shoeing, $1 a bushel for wheat, peas $1.50, unbolted flour $8 a 100 U>s. 


singers. Such is the capital of the vast interior valley, 
pregnant with approaching importance. In Decem 
ber 1847 Sutter reported a white population of 289 
in the district, with 16 half-breeds, Hawaiians, and 
negroes, 479 tame Indians, and a large number of 
gentiles, estimated with not very great precision at 
21,873 for the valley, including the region above the 
Buttes. 22 There are 60 houses in or near the fort, 
and six mills and one tannery in the district; 14,000 
fanegas of wheat were raised during the season, and 
40,000 expected during the following year, besides 
other crops. Sutter owns 12,000 cattle, 2,000 horses 
and mules, from 10,000 to 15,000 sheep, and 1,000 
hogs. 23 John Sinclair figures as alcalde, and George 
McKinstry as sheriff. 

The greater portion of the people round the fort 
depend upon Sutter as permanent or temporary em 
ploy ^s, the latter embracing immigrants preparing to 
settle, and Mormons intent on presently proceeding 
to Great Salt Lake. As a class they present a hardy, 
backwoods type of rough exterior, relieved here and 
there by bits of Hispano-Californian attire, in bright 
sashes, wide sombreros, and jingling spurs. The na 
tives appear probably to better advantage here than 
elsewhere in California, in the body of half a hundred 
well-clothed soldiers trained by Sutter, and among 
his staff of steady servants and helpers, who have ac 
quired both skill and neatness. A horde of subdued 
savages, engaged as herders, tillers, and laborers, are 
conspicuous by their half-naked, swarthy bodies; and 
others may be seen moving about, bent on gossip or 
trade, stalking along, shrouded in the all-shielding 
blanket, which the winter chill has obliged them to 
put on. Head and neck, however, bear evidence to 
their love of finery, in gaudy kerchiefs, strings of beads, 
and other ornaments. 

32 McKinstry Pap., MS., 28. 

28 There were 30 ploughs in operation. Suttees Pers. Bern., MS., 43. The 
version reproduced in Sac. Co. Hist., 31, differs somewhat. 


The fort is evidently reserved for a manor-seat, de 
spite its bustle; for early in 1846 Sutter had laid 
out the town of Sutterville, three miles below on the 
Sacramento. This has now several houses, 24 having 
received a great impulse from the location there, in 
1847, of two companies of troops under Major Kings- 
bury. It shares in the traffic regularly maintained 
with San Francisco by means of a twenty-ton sloop, 
the Amelia, belonging to Sutter and manned by half 
a dozen savages. It is supported during the busy 
season by. two other vessels, which make trips far up 
the Sacramento and San Joaquin. The ferry at the 
fort landing is merely a canoe handled by an Indian, 
but a large boat is a-building. 25 

Six miles up the American River, so called by Sut 
ter as the pathway for American immigration, the 
Mormons are constructing a flour-mill for him, 26 and 
another party are in like manner engaged on a saw 
mill building and race at Coloma Valley, forty miles 
above, on the south fork. Opposite Sutter s Fort, on 
the north bank of the American, John Sinclair, the 
alcalde, holds the large El Paso rancho, 27 and above 
him stretches the San Juan rancho of Joel P. Ded- 
mond, facing the Leidesdorff grant on the southern 
bank. 28 There is more land than men; instead of 
100 acres, the neighbors do not regard 100,000 acres 
as out of the way. Sutter s confirmed grant of eleven 
leagues in due time is scattered in different direc 
tions, owing to documentary and other irregularities. 
A portion is made to cover Hock Farm on Feather 

24 Sutter built the first house, Hadel and Zins followed the example, Zins 
being the first real brick building erected in the country. Morse, Hist. Sac., 
places the founding in 1844. 

25 As well as one for Montezuma. Col. Star, Oct. 23, 1847; Gregson s Stat., 
MS., 7.. 

26 With four pairs of stones, which was fast approaching completion. A 
dam had been constructed, with a four-mile race. Description and progress 
in Id.; Bights Diary, MS., 56-7; Sutter s Pers. Rem., MS., 159. Brighton 
has now risen on the site. 

27 Of some 44^000 acres, chiefly for his Hawaiian patron, E. Grimes. 

28 Of 35,500 acres; Dedmond s was 20,000. Leidesdorff had erected a house 
in 1846, at the present Routier s. 


River, 29 his chief stock-range, and also embracing fine 
plantations. 30 On the east side of this region lies the 
tract of Nicolaus Altgeier, 31 and along the north bank 
of Bear River, Sebastian Keyser and the family of 
William Johnson have located themselves; 32 oppo 
site are two Frenchmen, Theodore Sicard and Claude 
Chanon. The south bank of the Yuba is occupied 
by Michael C. Nye, John Smith, and George Pat 
terson. 33 Facing them, along Feather River, Theo 
dore Cordua had settled in 1842, and established a 
trading post, owning some 12,000 head of stock. 3 * 
Charles Roether had in 1845 located himself on Hon- 
cut Creek, and near him are now Edward A. Farwell 
and Thomas Fallon. 35 The lands of Samuel Neal and 
David Dutton are on Butte Creek; William North- 
grave s place is on Little Butte; W. Dickey, Sanders, 
and Yates had in 1845 taken up the tract on Chico 
Creek which John Bidwell is at this time entering 
upon. 36 Peter Lassen, the famous Danish trapper, had 
settled on Deer Creek, and erected a mill and smithy, 37 
granting a league to Daniel Sill, Sen. Moon s ranch 
is held by W. C. Moon and Merritt. A. G. Toomes 
occupies a tract north of the creek which bears his 

29 A name applied by Sutter from the feather ornaments of the natives. 

30 It was founded in 1841, and managed successively by Bidwell, Benitz, 
S. J. Hensley, and Kanaka Jim. It had 5,000 head of cattle and 1,200 horses. 

31 Who settled on the present site of Nicolaus. North of Hock Farm, C. 
W. Fliigge had obtained a grant which was transferred to Consul Larkin. 

32 On the five-league rancho given to P. Gutierrez, deceased, by Sutter, who 
made several grants in the valley, by authority. They bought land and cattle 
and divided. 

33 Smith, who came first, in 1845, sold a part of his tract to Patterson. 
The first two had nearly 2,000 head of stock. 

34 This rancho, on the site of the present Marysville, he called New Meck 
lenburg, in honor of his native German state. Chas Covillaud was manager; 
trade relations were had with San Francisco. 

35 The former on a grant claimed by Huber; the two latter on Farwell s 

36 Northgrave was a settler on the tract claimed by S. J. Hensley, but 
disallowed afterward. James W. Marshall had abandoned his holding on the 
same tract. The confirmed grants were Fernandez, 4 leagues; Arroyo Chico 
of Bidwell, 5 leagues; Agua Fria of Pratt, 6 leagues; Llano Seco of Parrott, 
4 leagues; Bosquejo of Lassen, 5 leagues; Boga of Larkin, 5 leagues; Esquon 
of Neal, 5 leagues. The claims of Cambuston, Huber, Hensley} Nye, and 
others were rejected. 

37 BidwdVs Cal. 1841-8, MS., 231-2. 


name, and above, on Antelope Creek, lives Job F. 
Dye, below P. B. Reading, who ranks as the most 
northern settler in the valley, on Cotton wood Creek, 38 
one of the numerous tributaries here fed by the adja 
cent snow-crowned summits dominated by the majes 
tic Shasta. 

Descending along the west bank of the Sacramento, 
we encounter the rancho of William B. Ide, of Bear-flag 
fame ; 39 below him, on Elder Creek, is William C. Chard, 
and R. H. Thomes on the creek named after him. 40 
On Stony Creek, whence Sutter obtains grindstones, 41 
live Granville P. Swift, Franklin Sears, and Bryant; 
below them John S. Williams has lately settled with 
his wife, the first white woman in this region. 42 Watt 
Anderson is found on Sycamore Slough, and on the 
north side of Cache Creek the family of William Gor 
don. 43 Eastward lies the rancho of William Knight, 44 
and below him, facing the mouth of Feather River, 
that of Thomas M. Hardy. 45 In a hut of tule, facing 
the Sutter s-fort grant, lives John Schwartz, a reticent 
uilder of airy castles upon his broad domain, and of 
whom it is said that, having lost his own language, 
he never learned another. A northern slice of his 
land he sold to James McDowell and family. 46 On 
Putah Creek, John R. Wolfskill had, since 1842, oc 
cupied a four-league grant. Adjoining, on Ulattis 

58 One Julian occupied it for him in 1845, and he himself settled theie in 

3a Just below the present Red Bluff, a tract bought by him from Josiah 
Belden. These northern grants averaged five leagues each. 

40 He built the first dwelling in the county, on the site of Tehama 

41 Cut by Moon, Merritt, and Lassen. 

42 Of Colusa county, daughter of Jos. Gordon. He located himself two 
miles south of Princeton, on the Larkin children s grant, with 800 head of 
cattle, on shares with Larkin. M. Diaz claim to 11 leagues was rejected. 

43 Who built the first dwelling in Yolo county, in 1842, on Quesisosi grant. 
His son-in-law, Nathan Coombs, was probably the first white bridegroom in 
the Sacramento Valley. Married by Sutter in 1844. His son William was 
the first white child of Yolo county. Coombs soon moved to Napa Valley. 

44 Who settled at the present Knight s Landing. 

45 An Englishman, hostile to Americans. 

46 McDowell built a log house at the present Washington, and was, in 1847, 
presented with the first white girl of Yolo county. He paid Schwartz 12 
cents an acre for GOO acres. 



Creek, extends the grant of Vaca and Pena, and at 
its mouth are Feltis Miller J D. Hoppe, and Daniel 
K. Berry. 

Hence, down the Sacramento for four leagues 
stretches the Ulpinos grant of John Bidwell, which 
he sought to improve by sending, in 1846, a party 
of immigrants to transform the lonely house then 
standing there into a town. After a few months 
suffering from hunger and hardships, the party aban 
doned a site for which the Indian name of Halo Che- 
muck, nothing to eat/ was for a time appropriately 
retained. Charles D. Hoppe bought a fourth of the 
tract in 1847/ 7 Equally unsuccessful was the con 
temporaneous effort of L. W. Hastings, a Mormon 
agent, to found the town of Montezuma, fifteen miles 
below, at the junction of the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin in Suisun Bay. His co-religionists objected 
to the site as devoid of timber; yet he remained hope 
ful, and ordered a windmill and ferry-boat to increase 
the attractions of his solitary house.* 8 

These efforts at city building indicate how widely 
appreciated was the importance of a town which 
should tap, not merely each section of the great val 
ley, as at Sutter s Fort and Stockton, but the joint 
outlet of the Sacramento and San Joaquin. It was 
foreseen that hence would flow the main wealth of 
the country, although the metallic nature of the first 
current was little anticipated. The idea seems to 
have struck simultaneously Bidwell, Hastings, and 
Semple. The last named, with a judgment worthy of 
the towering editor of the Ccdifornian, selected the bil 
lowy slopes of the headland guarding the opening of 
this western Bosphorus, the strait of Carquines, the 
inner golden gate of San Francisco Bay. Indeed, the 

47 The present town of Rio Vista lies just below the site. Another version 
has it that the three families settled there were carried away by the gold- 
fever, and that halachummuck was called out by Indians when they here 
killed a party of starving hunters. 

48 Col. Star, Oct. 23, 1847; Bu/um s Four Month*, 9 Here rose, later, 
e hamlet of Collinsville. 


superiority of the site for a metropolis is unequalled on 
the Pacific seaboard, and unsurpassed by any spot in 
the world, lying as it does at the junction of the valley 
outlet with the head of ocean navigation, with fine 
anchorage and land-locked harbor, easy ferriage 
across the bay, fine climate, smooth and slightly ris 
ing ground, with a magnificent view over bays and 
isles, and the lovely valley of the contra costa nestling 
at the foot of Mount Diablo. And Benicia, as it 
was finally called, prospered under the energetic man 
agement. Although less than a year old, it now 
boasted nearly a score of buildings, with two hundred 
lots sold, a serviceable ferry, and with prospects that, 
utterly eclipsing those of adjoining aspirants, were 
creating a flutter of alarm in the city at the Gate. 49 

Passing on the extreme right the Armijo rancho, 50 
and proceeding up the Napa Valley, now famed alike 
for its scenery and vineyards, we find a large number 
of settlers. Foremost among them is the veteran 
trapper, George Yount, who in 1836 built here the 
first American block-house of the country, as well as 
the first flour and saw mill, and extended warm hos 
pitality to subsequent comers. North of him entered 
soon afterward J. B. Chiles and William Pope into 
the small valleys bearing their names, and E. T. 
Bale and John York. 51 The Berreyesa brothers oc 
cupy their large valley across the range, on the head 
waters of Putah Creek; and on the site of the present 
Napa City, just about to be laid out, stand the two 
houses of Cayetano Juarez and Nicolas Higuera, who 
had settled on this spot in 1840, followed by Salvador 
Vallejo, and later by Joel P. Walker and Nathan 

49 Stephen Cooper was alcalde. For other names, see preceding volume, v. 
672 et seq. 

50 Properly in Suisun Valley, near the present Fairfield, where bordered 
also the grants of Suisun and Suscol, the latter claimed by Vallejo, but which 
claim was rejected. Mare Island was used as a stock-range by V. Castro, 
its yrantee. 

51 At the present St Helena and Calistoga, respectively. With Yount was 
C. Hopper; with Pope, Barnett; and with Chiles, Baldridge. Below extended 
the Chimiles grant of J. I. Berreyesa. 


Coombs; ana by John Rose and J. C. Davis, who in 
1846 built a schooner here, and were now erecting a 
mill for Vallejo. 52 Northward, in the region round 
Clear Lake, Stone and Kelsey occupy a stock-range, 
and George Rock holds the Guenoc rancho. 53 

The similar and parallel valley of Sonoma, signifying 
of the moon, is even more thickly occupied under 
the auspices of M. G. Vallejo, the potentate of this 
region and ranking foremost among Hispano-Cal- 
ifornians. This town of Sonoma, founded as a pre 
sidio thirteen years before, near the dilapidated mis 
sion Solano, claims now a population of 260, under 
Alcalde Lilburn W. Boggs, with twoscore houses, 
among which the two-story adobe of the general is 
regarded as one of the most imposing in the country. 
The barrack is occupied by a company of New York 
volunteers under Captain Brackett, which adds greatly 
to the animation of the place. Several members of 
Vallejo s family occupy lands above and below on 
Sonoma Creek, as, for instance, Jacob P. Leese; west 
ward on Petaluma Creek, Juan Miranda and family 
have settled; above are James Hudspeth, the large 

frant of the Carrillos, 54 and the fertile ranchos of 
lark West and John B. R. Cooper, the latter with 
mill and smithy. At Bodega, Stephen Smith had 
in 1846 established a saw-mill, worked by the first 
steam-engine in California, and obtained a vast grant, 55 
which embraced the former Russian settlement with 
its dismantled stockade fort. Edward M. Mclntosh 
and James Dawson s widow hold the adjoining ran 
chos of Jonive and Pogolomi, the latter having planted 
a vineyard on the Estero Americano. Above on the 

52 There were a number of other settlers, nearly four score, by this time, 
and two saw-mills and two flour-mills. CuL Star, Jan. 22, April 1, 1848. 

53 Of 21,000 acres. J. P. Leese and the Vallejos had stock, the latter claim 
ing the Lupyomi tract of 16 leagues, which was rejected, and Rob F Ridley 
that of Collayomi of 8,000 acres, which was confirmed. 

61 Mrs Carrillo s covering the present Santa Rosa, and Joaquin Carrillo s 
that of Sebastopol. 

55 Of 35,000 acres. Both men had been sailors, the former from Scotland, 
the other from Erin. 


coast are the tracts of William Benhz and Ernest 
Rufus, the latter with a grist-mill. 58 Along Russian 
River stretches the Sotoyome grant of H. D. Fitch, 
with vineyards and mill. 57 Cyrus Alexander, lately 
Fitch s agent, had occupied Alexander Valley, and 
below him now live Lindsay Carson and Louis Le 
gend re. 58 

The hilly peninsula between the bay and ocean, 
named after the Indian chief Marin, is indebted for a 
comparatively compact occupation mainly to its posi 
tion relative to other settlements, and to the impulse 
given by the now secularized and decaying mission 
establishment of San Rafael. This lovely spot was 
budding into a town, and contained several settlers, 59 
besides Tiinoteo Murphy, in charge of the mission es 
tate. Above extend the tracts of Novato 60 and Ni- 
casio, the latter owned by James Black, 61 and adjoin 
ing, those of Ramon Mesa and Bartolome Bojorques. 
Rafael Garcia and Gregorio Briones are located on 
the ranehos of Tomales and Bolinas, owning many 
cattle; and William A. Richardson holds that of Sau- 
zalito, which is already an anchorage and supply sta 
tion, 62 yet with aspirations cramped by the closely 
pressing hills, and overshadowed by the looming me 
tropolis. 83 

56 Erected by H. Hiigler on Walhalla River, -which is now usually called 
Gualala River. 

57 Covering the present site of Healdsburg. 

58 Among other settlers may be mentioned Frank Bedwell, Mose Carson, 
Fred. Starke, Hoeppner, Wilson, the Pinas, and the Gordons. 

39 Among them Mrs Merriner and sons, Jacob and J. O. B. ; Short and 
Mrs Miller near by. Ignacio Pacheco was justice of the peace. 

60 Obtained by F. Fales in 1839 and transferred to Leese. 
1 Who had obtained it from J. O Farrell, in exchange for his grant near 

62 The earliest settler here, since 1826, had been John J. Read, who subse 
quently obtained the Corte de Madera rancho, where he planted orchards and 
erected a grist-mill, followed by a saw-mill in 1843, the year of his death. 
Angel Island was for a time occupied by A. M. Osio. Among other settlers 
were Martin and Tom Wood, the latter a famous vaquero. 

63 On the map presented I mark with preference the names of settlers, 
giving the rancho only when the actual holder is in doubt, as represented by 
proxy or tenant, or claiming merely by virtue of grant. The preceding mat 
ter has been drawn from official documents, books, and manuscripts, with uo 
small supplementing by the mouths of living men 


Such is the detail of the picture which I wish to 
present of central and northern California in Jan 
uary 1848. I will complete it with some generalities 
of physical features and population, thus giving as a 
whole the inhabitants and their environment. 

It is the dawn of history in these parts, presently 
to be followed by a golden sunlight flooding the 
whole western world. All along the centuries Cali 
fornia had lain slumbering, wrapt in obscurity, and 
lulled by the monotone of ocean. The first fitful 
dreams of explorers in search of an ever-eluding 
strait, of cities stored with treasures, had subsided 
into pastoral scenes, with converts and settlers clus 
tering round white-walled missions in the shadow of 
the cross. Then came the awakening, impelled by a 
ruder invasion of soldiers and land-greedy backwoods 
men, the premonitory ripple of international interest 
and world-absorbing excitement. 

Strewn lavishly about is what men most covet, those 
portions of nature s handiwork called wealth and 
wealth-making material, the acquisition of which is the 
great burden progressive men conventionally lay upon 
themselves as the price of their civilization. These 
resources reveal themselves in the long snow-clad 
uplands of the Sierra, with their timber and metals, in 
the northern foothills, revelling in perennial spring, 
and in the semi-tropic vegetation of the central and 
southern valleys. The extremes of heat and cold, of 
desert aridity and unhealthy rankness, are rare and 
of small extent, serving rather to illustrate as rem 
nants the method and means of nature in producing 
one of her masterpieces. Such are the unsightly 
marshes in different localities; the Colorado desert 
bordering the river of that name, and its link along 
the eastern declivity of the Sierra Nevada with the 
great basin of the interior, which in the south is 
marked by a dismal stretch of bare ridges and inter 
vening valleys of sand and volcanic scoria, with occa 
sional muddy salt pools and cracked surfaces frosted 


with alkali, and in the south by a rugged lake basin. 
Yet even here the evil is superficial, for nature has 
left compensation in many valuable minerals; and 
art promises to continue her task of reclamation by 
means of palm-lined canals, health-bringing eucalyptus 
groves, and rain-inviting forests. 

It is a terrane younger than the eastern seaboard, 
wrought not by the same slow and prosy process 
of ordinary strata formation, but in many a fit of pas 
sion, with upheavals and burstings asunder, with surg 
ing floods and scorching blasts. The soil yet quivers 
and is quick with electric force, and climatic moods 
are fitful as ever; here a gentle summer s holiday, 
there a winter of magnificent disorder; between, ex 
hilarating spring, with buds and freshness, and beyond, 
a torrid fringe, parched and enervating. Side by 
side in close proximity are decided differences, with 
a partial subordination of latitude and season to 
local causes. Thus, on the peninsula of San Francisco 
winter appears in vernal warmth and vigor, and sum 
mer as damp and chilly autumn, while under the shel 
ter of some ridge, or farther from the ocean, summer 
is hot and arid, and winter cold and frosty. 

While configuration permits surprises, it also tem 
pers them, and as a rule the variations are not sud 
den. The sea breezes are fairly constant whenever 
their refreshing presence is most needed, leaving 
rarely a night uncooled; and the seasons are marked 
enough within their mild extremes. At San Fran 
cisco a snow-fall is almost unknown, and a thunder 
storm or a hot night extremely rare. Indeed, the 
sweltering days number scarcely half a dozen during 
the year. The average temperature is about 56 de 
grees Fahrenheit, which is the mean for spring.. In 
summer and autumn this rises to 60 and 59, respect 
ively, falling in winter to 51, while at Sacramento the 
average is 58 degrees, with 56, 69, 61, and 45 for 
the four seasons respectively. At Humboldt Bay, in 
the north, the temperature varies from 43 degrees in 


the winter to 57 in the summer, averaging 51 -^; and 
at San Diego, in the south, it ranges as the extremes 
from 52 to 71 degrees, 6 * while the average of summer 
and winter and night and day does not vary over ten 

In summer an equilibrium is approached; in winter 
the tiresome reserve is broken. By early autumn a 
wide-spread deadness obtains ; the hills wear a bleached 
appearance, the smaller streams are empty, the plain 
is parched and dusty, the soil cracked in fissures from 
excessive dryness; green fields have turned sere and 
yellow, and the weeds snap like glass when trodden 
on. It is the period of nature s repose. The grass is 
not dead, but sleepeth. When the winter rains begin, 
in November, after a respite of six months, vegetal 
life revives; the softened soil puts on fresh garments; 
the arid waste blossoms into a garden. The cooler 
air of winter condenses the vapor-laden winds of ocean, 
which, during the preceding months, are sapped of 
their moisture by the hot and thirsty air. And all 
this is effected with only half the amount of rain fall 
ing in the Atlantic states, the average at San Fran 
cisco being little over twenty inches annually, at 
Sacramento one tenth less, and at San Diego one 
half; while in the farther north the fall is heavier and 
more evenly distributed. 

In this dry, exhilarating atmosphere the effect of 
the sun is not so depressing as in moister regions, and 
with cool, refreshing nights, the hottest days are bear 
able. It is one of the most vitalizing of climates for 
mind and body, ever stimulating to activity and en 
joyment. Land and sea vie with each other in life- 
giving supremacy, while man steps in to enjoy the 
benefits. When the one rises in undue warmth, the 
other frowns it down; when one grows cold and sul 
len, the other beams in happy sunshine. Winds and 

64 Severe extremes are confined to a few torrid spots like Fort Yuma, and 
to the summits of the eastern ranges. Comprehensive data on climate in 
HitteWs Comm. and Indust., 62-81. 


currents, sun and configuration, the warm stream 
from ancient Cathay, and the dominating mountains, 
all aid in the equalization of differences. 

Thus lay the valley of California a-dreaming, with 
visions of empire far down the vistas of time, when 
behold, the great awakening is already at hand ! Even 
now noiseless bells are ringing the ingathering of the 
nations; for here is presently to be found that cold, 
impassive element which civilization accepts as its 
symbol of the Most Desirable, and for which accord 
ingly all men perform pilgrimage and crusade, to toil 
and fight and die. 


JANUARY, 1848. 


JOHN A. SUTTER was the potentate of the Sacra 
mento, as we have seen. He had houses and lands, 
flocks and herds, mills and machinery; he counted his 
skilled artisans by the score, and his savage retainers 
by the hundred. He was, moreover, a man of prog 
ress. Although he had come from cultured Europe, 
and had established himself in an American wilderness, 
he had no thought of drifting into savagism. 

Among his more pressing wants at this moment 
was a saw-mill. A larger supply of lumber was needed 
for a multitude of purposes. Fencing was wanted. 
The flour-mills, then in course of construction at 
Brighton, would take a large quantity; the neighbors 
would buy some, and boards might profitably be sent 
to San Francisco, instead of bringing them from that 
direction. 1 There were no good forest trees, with 

1 Since 1845 Sutter had obtained lumber from the mountains, got ont by 
whip-saws. BidwelVs Gal. 1841-8, MS., 226. The author of this most valu 
able manuscript informs me further that Sutter had for years contemplated 
building a saw-mill in order to avoid the labor and cost of sawing lumber by 
hand in the redwoods on tfie coast, and bringing it round by the bay in his 
vessel. With this object he at various times sent exploring parties into the 



the requisite water-power, nearer than the foothills of 
the mountains to the east. Just what point along 
this base line would prove most suitable, search would 
determine; and for some time past this search had 
been going on, until it was interrupted by the war of 
conquest. The war being over, explorations were 

Twoscore miles above Sutter s Fort, a short dis 
tance up the south branch of American River, the 
rocky gateway opens, and the mountains recede to the 
south, leaving in their wake softly rounded hills cov 
ered with pine, balsam, and oak, while on the north 
are somewhat abrupt and rocky slopes, patched with 
grease-wood and chemisal, and streaked with the 
deepening shades of narrow gulches. Between these 
bounds is a valley four miles in circumference, with 
red soil now covered by a thin verdure, shaded here 
and there by low bushes and stately groves. Culuma, 
beautiful vale, 2 the place was called. At times sunk 
in isolation, at times it was stirred by the presence 
of a tribe of savages bearing its name, whose several 
generations here cradled, after weary roaming, sought 
repose upon the banks of a useful, happy, and some 
times frolicsome stream. Within the half-year civil 
ization had penetrated these precincts, to break the 
periodic solitude with the sound of axe and rifle; 
for here the saw-mill men had come, marking their 
course by a tree-blazed route, presently to show the 
way to the place where was now to be played the first 
scene of a drama which had for its audience the world. 

Among the retainers of the Swiss hacendado at 
this time was a native of New Jersey, James Wilson 
Marshall, a man of thirty-three years, who after drift 
ing in the western states as carpenter and farmer, 3 

mountains. Bidwell himself, in company with Semple, was on one of these 
unsuccessful expeditions in 1846. Mrs Wimmer states that in June 1847 she 
made ready her household effects to go to Battle Creek, where a saw-mill was 
to be erected, but the men changed their plans and went to Coloma. 

2 We of to-day write Colorna. and apply the name to the town risen there. 

3 Born in 1812 iu Hope township, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, where 


came hither by way of Oregon to California. In July 
1845 he entered the service of Sutter, and was duly 
valued as a good mechanic. By and by he secured a 
grant of land on Butte Creek, 4 on which he placed 
some live-stock, and went to work. During his ab 
sence in the war southward, this was lost or stolen; 
and somewhat discouraged, he turned again to Sutter, 
and readily entered into his views for building a saw 
mill. 5 

The old difficulty of finding a site still remained, 
and several exploring excursions were now made by 
Marshall, sometimes accompanied by Sutter, and by 
others in Sutter s service. 6 On the 16th of May, 1847, 
Marshall set out on one of these journeys, accompanied 
by an Indian guide and two white men, Treador and 
Graves. 7 On the 20th they were joined by one Gin 
gery, who had been exploring with the same object 
on the Cosumnes. They travelled up the stream 
now called Weber Creek to its head, pushed on to 
the American River, discovered Culuma, arid settled 
upon this place as the best they had found, uniting 
as it did the requisite water-power and timber, with a 

his father had initiated him into his trade as wagon-builder. Shortly after 
his twenty-first birthday the prevailing west ward current of migration carried 
him through Indiana and Illinois to Missouri. Here he took up a homestead 
land claim, and bid fair to prosper, when fever and ague brought him low, 
whereupon, in 1844, he sought the Pacific Coast. Parxonx Life of Marshall, 
6-8. He started in May 1844, and crossed by way of Fort Hall to Ore gon, 
where he wintered. He then joined the McMahon-Clyman party for Califor 
nia. See Hist. Cal., iv. 731, this series. 

4 Bought, says Parsons, from S. J. Hensley. 

Marshall claims to have first proposed the scheme to Sutter. Hutchinys 
Mag., ii. 199. This is doubtful, as shown elsewhere, and is in any event 

6 Marshall says that while stocking the ploughs, three men, Gingery, Wim- 
mer, and McLellan, who had heard of his contemplated trip, undertook one 
themselves, after obtaining what information and directions they could from 
Marshall. Wimmer found timber and a trail on what is now known as the 
Diamond Springs road, and the 13th of May he and Gingery began work some 
thirteen miles west of the place where the Shingle Springs house subsequently 
stood. Gingery was afterward with Marshall when the latter discovered the 
site of the Coloma mill. 

7 Marshall implies that this was his first trip. Sutter states definitely, 
He went out several times to look for a site. I was with him twice on these 
occasions. I was not with* him when he determined the site of the mill. 
Butter s Pers. Jtem., MS., 160-1. 


possible roadway to the fort. 8 Sutter resolved to 
lose no time in erecting the mill, and invited Marshall 


to join him as partner. 9 The agreement was signed 
in the latter part of August, 10 and shortly afterward 
Marshall set out with his party, carrying tools and 
supplies on Mexican ox-carts, and driving a flock of 
sheep for food. A week was occupied by the journey. 11 
Shelter being the first thing required on arrival, a 
double log house was erected, with a passage-way 
between the two parts, distant a quarter of a mile or 
more from the mill site. 12 Subsequently two other 
cabins were constructed nearer the site. By New- 
Year s day the mill frame had risen, and a fortnight 

8 Marshall estimated that even then the lumber would have to be hauled 
18 miles, and could be rafted the rest of the way. A mission Indian, the 
alcalde of the Cosumnes, is said to have been sent to solve some doubts con 
cerning the site. Marshall must indeed have been well disciplined. Not 
many men of his temperament would have permitted an Indian to verify his 
doubted word. 

9 A contract was drawn up by John Bidwell, clerk, in which Sutter agreed 
to furnish the men and means, while Marshall was to superintend the con 
struction, and conduct work at the mill after its completion. It is difficult 
to determine what the exact terms of this contract were. Sutter merely re 
marks that he gave Marshall an interest in the mill. Pers. Item., MS., 160. 
Bidwell says nothing more than that he drew up the agreement. Cal. 1841-8, 
MS., 228. Marshall, in his communication to llutchinys Mcujazi/ie, con 
tents himself with saying that after returning from his second trip, the co 
partnership was completed. Parsons, in his Life of Marshall, 79-80, is more 
explicit. The terms of this agreement, he writes, were to the effect that 
Sutter should furnish the capital to build a mill on a site selected by Marshall, 
who was to be the active partner, and to run the mill, receiving certain com 
pensation for so doing. A verbal agreement was also entered into between 
the "parties, to the effect that if at the close of the Mexican war then pending 
California should belong to Mexico, Sutter as a citizen of that republic should 
possess the mill site, Marshall retaining his rights to mill privileges, and to 
cut timber, etc.; while if the country was ceded to the United States, Mar 
shall as an American citizen should own the property. In the same work, p. 
177, is an affidavit of John Winters, which certifies that he, Winters, and 
Alden S. Bagley purchased, in Dec. 1848, John A. Sutter s interest in the 
Coloma mill which interest was one half for $6,000, and also a third of the 
interest of Marshall for $2,000, which implies that Marshall then owned the 
other half. Mrs Wimmer, in her narrative, says that Sutter and Marshall 
were equal partners. S. F. Bulletin, Dec. 19, 1874. 

10 Marshall says Aug. 27th; Parsons, Aug. 19th; Bidwell, in a letter to the 
author, Aug. or Sept. 

11 Mrs Wimmer makes the time a fortnight. 

12 One part of the house was occupied by the men, and the other part by 
the Wimmers, Mrs Wimmer cooking for the company. About the close of 
the year, however, a dispute arose, whereupon the men built for themselves a 
cabin near the half-completed mill, and conducted their own culinary depart 
ment. Their food was chiefly salt salmon and boiled wheat. Wimmer s 
young sons assisted with the teaming. 



later the brush dam was finished, although not till 
the fortitude of Marshall and his men had been tried 
by a flood which threatened to sweep away the whole 

Another trouble arose with the tail-race. In order 
to economize labor, a dry channel had been selected, 
forty or fifty rods long, which had to be deepened and 
widened. This involved some blasting at the upper 
end; but elsewhere it was found necessary merely to 
loosen the earth in the bed, throwing out the larger 

iMiiiia N I 


stones, and let the water during the night pass through 
the sluice-gate to wash away the debris. 

It was a busy scene presented at this advance post 
of civilization, at the foot of the towering Sierra, and 
it was fitly participated in by eight aboriginal lords of 
the soil, partly trained at New Helvetia. The half- 
score of white men were mostly Mormons of the dis 
banded battalion, even now about to turn their faces 
toward the new Zion. A family was represented in 
the wife and children of Peter L. Wimmer, 13 the as- 

13 Original form of name appears to have been Weimer, corrupted by Eng- 


slstant of Marshall, and occupied in superintending the 
Indians digging in the race. Henry W. Bigler was 
drilling at its head; Charles Bennett and William 
Scott were working at the bench ; Alexander Stephens 
and James Barger were hewing timber; Azariah 
Smith and William Johnson were felling trees; and 
James O. Brown was whip-sawing with a savage. 1 * 

They were a cheerful set, working with a will, yet 
with a touch of insouciance, imparted to some extent 
by the picturesque Mexican sombrero and sashes, and 
sustained by an interchange of banter at the sim 
plicity or awkwardness of the savages. In Marshall 
they had a passable master, though sometimes called 
queer. He was a man fitted by physique and tem 
perament for the backwoods life, which had lured and 
held him. Of medium size, strong rather than well 
developed, his features were coarse, with a thin beard 
round the chin and mouth, cut short like the brown 
hair; broad forehead and penetrating eyes, by no 
means unintelligent, yet lacking intellectuality, at 
times gloomily bent on vacancy, at times flashing with 
impatience. 15 He was essentially a man of moods; 
his mind was of dual complexion. In the plain and 

lish pronunciation to Wimmer. Bigler, Diary, MS., 60, has Werner, which 
approaches the Weitner form. 

u Among those who had set out with Marshall upon the first expedition of 
construction were Ira Willis, Sidney Willis, William Kountze, and Ezekiel 
Persons. The Willis brothers and Kountze returned to the fort in Septem 
ber 1847, the two former to assist Sutter in throwing a dam across the Amer 
ican River at the grist-mill, and the latter on account of ill health. Mention 
is made of one Evans, sent by Sutter with Bigler, Smith, and Johnson, Ben 
nett and Scott following a little later; but whether Evans or Persons were on 
the ground at this time, or had left, no one states. Bigler, Stephens, Brown, 
Barger, Johnson, Smith, the brothers Willis, and Kountze had formerly be 
longed to the Mormon battalion. 

15 Broad enough across the chest, free and natural in movement, he thought 
lightly of fatigue and hardships. His complexion was a little shaded; the 
mouth declined toward the corners; the nose and head were well shaped. In 
this estimate I am assisted by an old daguerreotype lying before me, and 
which reminds me of Marshall s answer to the editor of Hatchings Magazine 
in 1857, when asked for his likeness. I wish to say that I feel it a duty I 
owe to myself, he writes from Coloma the 5th of Sept., to retain my like 
ness, as it is in fact all I have that I can call my own ; and I feel like any other 
poor wretch, I want something for self. The sale of it may yet keep me 
from starving, or it may buy me a dose of medicine in sickness, or pay for 
the funeral of a dog, and such is all that I expect, judging from former kind 
nesses. I owe the country nothing. 


proximate, he was sensible and skilful; in the obscure 
and remote, he was utterly lost. In temper it was 
so; with his companions and subordinates he was 
free and friendly; with his superiors and the world 
at large he was morbidly ill-tempered and surly. 16 
He was taciturn, with visionary ideas, linked to 
spiritualism, that repelled confidence, and made him 
appear eccentric and morbid; he was restless, yet 
capable of self-denying perseverance that was fre 
quently stamped as obstinacy. 17 

Early in the afternoon of Monday, the 24th 18 of 

16 For example, Bigler, who worked under him, says of him, Diary, MS., 
57, An entire stranger to us, but proved to be a gentleman; and again, 72, 
in a first-rate good humor, as he most always was. He was a truthful man, 
so far as he knew the truth. Whatever Mr Marshall tells you, you may rely 
on as correct, said the people of Coloma to one writing in Hutchings* Mag., 
ii. 201. This is the impression he made on his men. On the other hand, Sut- 
ter, who surely knew him well enough, and would be the last person to 
malign any one, says to the editor of the Lancaster Examiner: Marshall was 
like a crazy man. He -\vas one of those visionary men who was always dream 
ing about something. And to me Sutter remarked; He was a very curious 
man, quarrelled with nearly everybody, though I could get along with him. 
Pers. Hem., MS., 1GO. 

17 Passionate, he was seldom violent; strong, he was capable of drinking 
deeply and coming well out of it; but he did not care much for the pleasures of 
intoxication, nor was he the drunkard and gambler that some have called him. 
He was not always actuated by natural causes. Once in a restaurant in San 
Francisco, in company with Sutter, he broke out: Are we alone? Yes, 
Sutter said. No, we are not, Marshall replied, there is a body there which 
you cannot see, but which I can. I have been inspired by heaven to act as a 
medium, and I am to tell Major-General Sutter what to do. But though 
foolish in some directions, he was in others a shrewd observer. Sutter, Pcrs. 
Rem., MS., 1GO, and Bid well, Gal. 1841-8, MS., 228, both praise him as a 
mechanic; and though in some respects a fool, he is still called an honest 
man. Barstow s Stat., MS., 14; S. F. Alta Gal., Aug. 17, 1874. To dress, 
naturally, he paid but little attention. He was frequently seen in white 
linen trousers, buckskin leggings and moccasons, and Mexican sombrero. 

18 The 19th of January is the date usually given; but I am satisfied it is 
incorrect. There are but two authorities to choose between, Marshall, the 
discoverer, and one Henry W. Bigler, a Mormon engaged upon the work at 
the time. Besides confusion of mind in other respects, Marshall admits that 
he does not know the date. On or about the 19th of January, he says, 
Hutching* 1 Magazine, ii. 200; I am not quite certain to a day, but it was 
between the 18th or 20th. Whereupon the 19th has been generally accepted. 
Bigler, on the other hand, was a cool, clear-headed, methodical man; more 
over, he kept a journal, in which he entered occurrences on the spot, and it 
is from this journal I get my date. If further evidence be wanting, we have 
it. Marshall states that four days after the discovery he proceeded to New 
Helvetia with specimens. Now, by reference to another journal, N~ Helvetia 
Diary, we find that Marshall arrived at the fort on the evening of the 28th. 
If we reckon the day of discovery as one of the four days, allow Marshall one 


January, 1848, while sauntering along the tail-race 
inspecting the work, Marshall noticed yellow particles 
mingled with the excavated earth which had been 
washed by the late rains. He gave it little heed at 
first; but preseatly seeing more, and some in scales, 
the thought occurred to him that possibly it might be 
gold. Sending an Indian to his cabin for a tin plate, 
he washed out some of the dirt, separating thereby as 
much of the dust as a ten-cent piece would hold; then 
he went about his business, stopping a while to ponder 
on the matter. During the evening he remarked 
once or twice quietly, somewhat doubtingly, "Boys, I 
believe I have found a gold mine." "I reckon not," 
was the response; "no such luck." 

Up betimes next morning, according to his custom, 
he walked down by the race to see the effect of the 
night s sluicing, the head-gate being closed at day 
break as usual. Other motives prompted his investi 
gation, as may be supposed, and led to a closer exam 
ination of the debris. On reaching the end of the 
race a glitter from beneath the water caught his eye, 
and bending down he picked from its lodgement 
against a projection of soft granite, some six inches 
below the surface, a larger piece of the yellow sub 
stance than any he had seen. If gold, it was in value 
equal to about half a dollar. As he examined it his 
heart began to throb. Could it indeed be gold! Or 
was it only mica, or sulphuret of copper, or other 
ignis fatuus! Marshall was no metallurgist, yet he 
had practical sense enough to know that gold is heavy 
and malleable; so he turned it over, and weighed it in 
his hand; then he bit it; and then he hammered it 
between two stones. It must be gold! And the 
mighty secret of the Sierra stood revealed I 

Marshall took the matter coolly; he was a cool 
enough man except where his pet lunacy was touched. 
On further examination he found more of the metal. 

night on the way, which Parsons gives him, and count the 28th one day, we 
have the 24th as the date of discovery, trebly proved. 


He went to his companions and showed it to them, and 
they collected some three ounces of it, flaky and in 
grains, the largest piece not quite so large as a pea, 
and from that down to less than a pin-head in size. 
Half of this he put in his pouch, and two days later 
mounted his horse and rode over to the fort. 19 

19 The events which happened at Coloma in January 1848 are described 
by four persons who were actually present. These are Bigler, Marshall, and 
Wimmer and his wife. Of these Bigler has hitherto given nothing to the 
public except a brief letter published in the San Francisco Bulletin, Dec. 31, 
1870. To me, however, he kindly presented an abstract of the diary which 
he kept at the time, with elaborations and comments, and which I esteem as 
one of the most valuable original manuscripts in my possession. The version 
given in this diary I have mainly followed in the text, as the most complete 
and accurate account. The others wrote from memory, long after the event; 
and it is to be feared too often from a memory distorted by a desire to exalt 
their respective claims to an important share in the discovery. But Bigler 
has no claims of this kind to support. He was not present when the first parti 
cles were discovered, nor when the first piece was picked up in the race; 
hence of these incidents he says little, confining himself mostly to what he saw 
with his own eyes. Marshall claims to have been alone when he made the 
discovery. It is on this point that the original authorities disagree. Bigler 
says Marshall went down the race alone. Mrs Wimmer and her husband de 
clare that the latter was with Marshall, and saw the gold at the same moment, 
though both allow that Marshall was the first to stoop and pick it up. Later 
Mrs Wimmer is allowed to claim the first discovery for her children, who show 
their findings to their father, he informing Marshall, or at least enlightening 
him as to the nature of the metal. Marshall tells his own story in a com 
munication signed by him and published in Hutching S* May., ii. 199-201, and 
less fully in a letter to C. E. Pickett, dated Jan. 28, 1856, in HitteWs Hand- 
Book of Mining, 12; Wiggins Rem., MS., 17-18; and in various brief accounts 
given to newspapers and interviewers. Parsons Life of Marshall is based on 
information obtained directly from the discoverer, and must ever constitute a 
leading authority on the subject. P. L. Wimmer furnished a brief account of 
the discovery to the Coloma Argus in 1855, which is reprinted in HitteU s 
Mining, 13. Mrs Wimmer s version, the result of an interview with Mary P. 
Winslow, was first printed in the 8. F. Bulletin, Dec. 19, 1874, though the 
substance of a previous interview with another person in 1852 is given in the 
Gilroy Advocate, April 24, 1875. Another class of authorities, as important 
as the foregoing, is composed of those who were the first to hear of the dis 
covery, and appeared on the ground immediately afterward. Foremost among 
these is Sutter. This veteran has at various times given accounts of the event 
to a number of persons, the best perhaps being those printed by J. Tyrwhitt 
Brooks in his Four Months among the Gold-finders, 40--71, in the Gilroy Advo 
cate ot Apr. 24, 1875, and in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 17, 1875, the latter 
taken from the Lancaster Examiner. Sutter s most complete printed narra 
tive appears, however, in Hutch-ings Mag. , ii. 194-8. But more important 
than any of these, because more detailed and prepared with greater care, is 
the version contained in the manuscript entitled Sutter s Personal Reminis 
cences, which I personally obtained from his lips. The same may be said of 
those given in the manuscripts of John Bidwell, California 1841-8, and of 
Gregson, Historical Statement, both of whom were at New Helvetia when the 
news first reached there, and at once visited Coloma. Provoked by an article 
in the Oregon Bulletin, with not very flattering reflections, Samuel Brannan 
made a statement in the Calistoga Tribune, which changed matters in no im 
portant particular. To attempt to give a list of all who have touched upon 


Great discoveries stand more or less connected with 
accident; that is to say, accidents which are sure to 
happen. Newton was not seeking the law of gravi 
tation, nor Columbus a new continent, nor Marshall 
gold, when these things were thrust upon them. And 
had it not been one of these, it would have been 
some one else to make the discovery. Gold fevers 
have had their periodic run since time immemorial, 
when Scythians mined the Ural, and the desert of 
Gobi lured the dwellers on the Indus; or when Ophir, 
the goal of Phoenician traders, paled before the splen 
dor of Apulia. The opening of America caused a re 
vival which the disclosures by Cortes and Pizarro 
turned into a virulent epidemic, raging for centuries, 

the discovery of gold in California would be of no practical benefit to any one. 
Next in importance, but throwing no additional light upon the subject, are 
those in Alta CaL, June 26, 1853, May 5, 1872, June 26, 1873, and Aug. 18 
and 19, 1874; Hays Col. Mining Cal.,\. 1; 8. F. Bulletin, Feb. 4, 1871, Jan. 
12, 1872, Oct. 21, 1879, May 12, 1880; Scientific Press, May 11, 1872; Browned 
Resources, 14-15; Batch s Mines and Miners, 78; Farnham s Cat., 354-6; 
London Quarterly Review, xci. 507-8; California Past and Present, 73-105; 
Weik, Cat. wie as ist, 29-51; Brooks Hist., 534; Mason s Official Rept; Lar- 
kiit s Letters, to Secy State; Robinson s Gold Region, 33-46; Foster s Gold 
Regions, 17-22; Shinn s Mining Camps, 105-22; Wiggins Rem., MS., 17-18; 
Frost s Hist. CaL, 39-55; Jenkins U. S. Expl. Ex. , 43 1-2; Oakland Times, 
Mar. 6, 1880; Revere s Tour of Duty, 228-52; Schlagintweit, CaL, 216; Wf*t 
Shore Gaz., 15; SanJos6Pion.eer,Jan. 19, 1878; Pfeiffer, Second Journey, 290, 
who is as accurate as excursionists generally are; Frignet, Hist. CaL, 79-80; 
Merced People, June 18, 1872; Mining Rev. and Slock Ledger, 1878, 126; 
Barxtow s Stat., MS., 3; Buffam s Six Months, 67-8; Treasury of Travel, 92-4; 
Leivitt s Scrap-Book; Nevada Gazette, Jan. 22, 1868; Holinski, La CaL, 144; 
Grass Valley Union, April 19, 1870; Sacramento Illust., 7; Saxon s Five Years 
within the Golden Gate; Auger, Voyage en Calif ornie, 149-56; Annals of S. F., 
130-2; CaL Assoc. Pioneer, First Annual, 42; Capron s California, 184-5; 
Bennett s Rec., MS., ii. 10-13. I have hardly thought it worth while to 
notice the stories circulated at various times questioning Marshall s claim 
as discoverer; as, for example, that Wimmer, or his boy, as before mentioned, 
was the first to pick up gold; or that a native, called Indian Jim, observed 
the shining metal, a piece as large as a brass button, which he gave to one of 
the workmen, Sailor Ike, who showed it to Marshall. Even men away from 
the spot at the time do not decline the honor. Gregson writes in his State 
ment, MS., 9, we, the discoverers of gold, and in his History of Stockton, 
73, Tinkham says: To those two pioneers of 1839 and 1841, Captain John 
A. Sutter and Captain Charles M. Weber, belong the honor of discovering 
the first gold-fields of California, and to them the state owes its wonderful 
growth and prosperity. These men were neither of them the discoverers of 
gold in any sense, nor were they the builders of this commonwealth. Some 
have claimed that the Mormons discovered the gold at Mormon Island, 
before Marshall found it at Coloma. Bidwell says that Brigham Young in 
1864 assured him that this was the case. CaL 1841-8, MS., 214. Such man 
ifest errors and misstatements are unworthy of serious consideration. There 
is jiot the slightest doubt that Marshall was the discoverer. 


ever stimulated by advancing exploration and piratical 
adventure. Every step northward in Mexico con 
firmed the belief in still richer lands beyond, and gave 
food for flaming tales like those told by Friar Marcos 
de Niza. 

Opinions were freely expressed upon the subject, 
some of them taking the form of direct assertions. 
These merit no attention. Had ever gold been found 
in Marin county, we might accredit the statement of 
Francis Drake, or his chaplain, Fletcher, that they 
saw it there in 1579. As it is, we know they did not 
see it. Many early writers mention gold in California, 
referring to Lower California, yet leading some to 
confound the two Californias, and to suppose that the 
existence of the rnetal in the Sierra foothills was 
then known. Instance Miguel Venegas, Shelvocke, 
and others of the seventeenth and eighteenth centu 
ries, and early encyclopaedia makers. It has always 
been a favorite trick of navigators to speak of things 
they either greatly feared or greatly desired as exist 
ing. Vizcaino, Knight, and fifty others were certain 
that the mountains of California contained gold. The 
developments along the Colorado River led to the 
same conviction; indeed, it was widely assumed that 
the Jesuits knew of rich mines within and beyond 
their precincts. Count Scala claims for the Russians 
of Bodega knowledge of gold on Yuba River as early 
as 1815, but he fails to support the assertion. Dana 
and other professional men of his class are to be cen 
sured for what they did not see, rather than praised 
for the wonderful significance of certain remarks. 
The mine at San Fernando, near Los Angeles, where 
w r orkwas begun in 1842, is about the only satisfactory 
instance on record of a knowledge of the existence of 
gold in Alta California prior to the discovery of Mar 
shall. And this was indeed a clew which could not 
have failed to be taken up in due time by some one 
among the host of observant fortune-hunters now 
pouring in, and forced by circumstances into the for- 


ests and foothills in quest of slumbering resources. 
The Sierra could not have long retained her secret. 20 
The discovery by Marshall was the first that can 
be called a California gold discovery, aside from the 
petty placers found in the southern part of the state. 
It is not impossible that white men may have seen 
gold in the Sierra foothills before him. This region 
had been traversed by trappers, by emigrants, and 
even by men of science; but if they saw gold, either 
they did not know it or they did not reveal it. No 
sooner was the discovery announced than others 
claimed to have been previously cognizant of the fact; 
but such statements are not admissible. Most of 
them are evident fabrications; as for the rest, not one 
has been proved. They were made in the first in 
stance, as a rule, to deprive Marshall of the fame of 
his discovery, and they failed 

20 Conspicuous among those not before mentioned are the opinions general 
of Arthur Dobbs, Samuel Hearne, Jonathan Carver, Duflot de Mofras, Catala, 
Pickett, Bid well, Larkin, Bandini, Osio; the statements of Antonio de Alcedo, 
Alvarado, Vallejo, Jedediah Smith, Blake, Hastings, and others. Herewith 
I give a list of authorities on the subject. 0*io, Historia de California, MS., 
506; CaL Dept. St Pap., viii. 6, 16, etc.; Larkin s Of. Cor., MS., i. 96; Ban- 
dint, Hist. CaL, MS., 17-18; Bidwell s CaL 1841-8, MS., 214; Vallejo, Doc., 
MS., i. 140-1; Dep. Rec., MS., ix. 136; Vallejo, Notas Hi*t6ricas, MS., 35; 
Cly man s Diary, MS.; Davis Glimpses, MS., 149-50; San Diego, Arch. Index, 
MS., 92; Castanares, Col. Doc. CaL, MS., 23; Alvarado, Hist. CaL, MS., 
i. 77, and iv. 161; Galindo, Apuntes, MS., 68-9; Suiter s Pers. Obs., MS., 171; 
Hall s Sonora, MS., 252; Castroville Argus, Sept. 7, 1872; Robinson s Life in 
Cat., 190; Browne s Min. Res., 13-16; Monterey Herald, Oct. 15, 1875; Bry 
ant s CaL, 451; Mex., Mem. ReL, 1835, no. 6; Mofras, Or. et CaL, i. 137; S. 
F. Alta CaL, Mar. 28, 1857, and Jan. 28 and May 18, 1878; S. F. Herald, 
June 1, 1855; Hesperian Mag., vii. 560; Drake s Voy.; Shelvocke s Voy.; 
Dobls Hudson s Bay; Hardy s Travels in Mex., 331-2; Dunbar s Romance of 
the Age, 93-4; Hughes CaL, 119; Mendocino Democrat, Feb. 1, 1872; Lake 
County Bee, Mar. 18, 1873; Venegas, Hist. CaL, i. 177-8; Antioch Ledger, Feb. 
3, 1872; Hittell s Mining, 10-11; Buf urn s Six Months, 45-6; Walker s Nar., 
11; Merced Argus, Sept. 2, 1874; Cronise s Nat. Wealth, 109; Hayes Col. 
Mining CaL, i. 1; S. F. Bulletin, July 12 and Oct. 1, 1860, Aug. 14, 1865; 
Tuthill s Hist. CaJ.,231; Gray s Hist. Or., 364; Dana s Two Years, 324; Red 
Bluff Ind., Jan. 17, 1866; Hutchings Mag., v. 352; Hunt s Mer. Mag., xxiv. 
768, xxxi. 385-6, xxxiv. 631-2; CaL Chronicle, Jan. 28, 1856; Dwindle, Ad., 
1866, 28; Reese Riv. Reveille, Aug. 10, 1865, and Jan. 29, 1872; Carson s State. 
Reg., Jan. 27, 1862; Elho Independent, Jan. 15, 1870; Sac Union, June 7, 
1861; Scala, Nouv. An. de* Voy., clxiv. 388-90; Quarterly Rev., no. 87, 1850, 
416; Gomez, Lo queSabe, MS., 228-9; Hughs California, 119; Carson s Rec., 
58-9; Roberts Rec., MS., 10; Voile, Doc., MS., 57; Dept. St Pap., MS., xii. 
63-5; Requeiia, Doc. t MS., 4-5; Los Angdes, Arch., MS., v. 331. 


It was late in the afternoon of the 28th of January 
when Marshall dismounted at New Helvetia, 21 entered 
the office where Sutter was busy writing, and abruptly 
requested a private interview. The horseman was 
dripping wet, for it was raining. Wondering what 
could have happened,* as but the day before he had 
sent to the mill all that was required, Sutter led the 
way into a private room. "Are you alone?" demanded 
the visitor. u Yes," was the reply. " Did you lock 
the door?" "No, but I will if you wish it." "I 
want two bowls of water," said Marshall. Sutter 
rang the bell and the bowls were brought. " Now I 
want a stick of redwood, and some twine, and some 
sheet copper." " What do you want of all these 
things, Marshall ? " " To make scales." " But I have 
scales enough in the apothecary s shop," said Sutter; 
and he brought a pair. Drawing forth his pouch, 
Marshall emptied the contents into his hand, and held 
it before Sutter s eyes, remarking, " I believe this is 
gold; but the people at the mill laughed at me and 
called me crazy." Sutter examined the stuff atten 
tively, and finally said: " It certainly looks like it; we 
will try it." First aquafortis was applied; and the 
substance stood the test. Next three dollars in silver 
coin were put into one of the scales, and balanced by 
gold-dust in the other. Both were then immersed in 
water, when down went the dust and up the silver coin. 
Finally a volume of the American Encyclopaedia, of 
which the fort contained a copy, was brought ont, and 
the article on gold carefully studied, whereupon all 
doubts vanished. 22 

2l Dunbar, Romance of the Age, 48, dates the arrival at the fort Feb. 2d, 
and intimates that the discovery was made the same morning. According to 
Parsons, Marshall reached the fort about 9 o clock in the morning, having left 
Coloma the day before, and passed the preceding night under a tree. On the 
journey he discovered gold in a ravine in the foothills, and also at the place 
afterward called Mormon Island, while examining the river for a lumber-yard 
site. Life of Marshall, 84. Sutter, however, both in his Diary and in his Rem 
iniscences, says that Marshall arrived at the fort in the afternoon. Marshall 
himself makes no mention of discovering gold on the journey. 

22 Sutter s Pers. Rem. , MS. , 163-7. In my conferences with Sutter, at Litiz, 
I endeavored to draw from him every detail respecting the interview here 


Marshall proposed that S utter should return with 
him to the mill that night, but the latter declined, 
saying that he would be over the next day. It was 
now supper-time, and still drizzling; would not the vis 
itor rest himself till morning ? No, he must be off 
immediately; and without even waiting to eat, he 
wrapped his sarape about him, mounted his horse, and 
rode off into the rain and darkness. Sutter slept little 
that night. Though he knew nothing of the magni 
tude of the affair, and did not fully realize the evils he 
had presently to face, yet he felt there would soon be 
enough of the fascination abroad to turn the heads of 
his men, and to disarrange his plans. In a word, with 
prophetic eye, as he expressed himself to me, he saw 
that night the curse of the thing upon him. 

On the morning of the 29th of January 23 Sutter 

presented in a condensed form. Some accounts assert that when Marshall 
desired the door to be locked Sutter was frightened, and looked about for his 
gun. The general assured me this was riot the case. Neither was the mind 
of Marshall wrought into such a fever as many represent. His manner was 
hurried and excited, but he was sane enough. He was peculiar, and he wished 
to despatch this business and be back at the mill. Barstow, in his Statement, 
MS., 3, asserts that lie did not rush down to the fort, but waited until he had 
business there. All the evidence indicates that neither Marshall nor Sutter 
had any idea, as yet, of the importance of the discovery. How could they 
have ? There might not be more than a handful of gold-dust in the whole 
Sierra, from any fact thus far appearing. See BidwelCs California 1841-8, 
MS., 230; Bi jler s Diary, MS., 64; Brooks Four Months, 40-3; Par tons Life 
of Marshall, 84-5; Hatchings Mag., ii. 194. Gregson, Statement, MS., 8, 
blacksmithing for Sutter when Marshall arrived, saw the gold in a greenish 
ounce vial, about half rilled. Bigler gives Marshall s own words, as repeated 
on his return to the mill. In every essential particular his account corresponds 
with that given to me by Sutter. 

23 The day on which Sutter followed Marshall to Coloma is questioned. In 
his Reminiscences, and his statement in Hutching* Magazine, Sutter distinctly 
says that he left for the saw-mill at seven o clock on the morning after Mar 
shall s visit to the fort; but in his Diary is written Feb. 1st, which would be 
the fourth day after the visit. Bigler, in his Diary, says that Sutter reached 
the mill on the third or fourth day after Marshall s return. Marshall 
shows his usual carelessness, or lack of memory, by stating that Sutter 
reached Coloma about the 20th of February. Discovery of Gold, in Hutching* 
Mg., ii. 201. Parsons is nearly as far wrong in saying that Sutter returned 
with Marshall to Coloma. Life of Marshall, 86. Mrs Wimmer also says that 
* Sutter came right up with Marshall. This is indeed partly true, as Marshall 
in his restlessness went back to meet Sutter, and of course came into camp 
with him. On the whole, I have determined to follow Sutter s words to me, 
as I know them to be as he gave them. If Sutter did not set out until Feb. 
1st, then Marshall did not reach the mill until the 31st of January, else Sut 
ter s whole statement is erroneous. 


started for the saw-mill. When half-way there, 
or more, he saw an object moving in the bushes 
at one side. " What is that ? " demanded Sutter of 
his attendant. " The man who was with you yester 
day," was the reply. It was still raining. " Have 
you been here all night?" asked Sutter of Marshall ; for 
it w r as indeed he. " No," Marshall said, " I slept at 
the mill, and came back to meet you." As they rode 
along Marshall expressed the opinion that the whole 
country was rich in gold. Arrived at the mill, Sutter 
took up his quarters at a house Marshall had lately 
built for himself, a little way up the mountain, and 
yet not far from the mill. During the night the water 
ran in the race, and in the morning it was shut off. 
All present then proceeded down the channel, and 
jumping into it at various points began to gather 
gold. 24 With some contributions by the men, added 
to what he himself picked up, Sutter secured enough 
for a ring weighing an ounce and a half, which he soon 
after exhibited with great pride as a specimen of the 
first gold. A private examination by the partners up 
the river disclosed gold all along its course, and in the 
tributary ravines and creeks. 25 

Sutter regarded the discovery as a misfortune. 
Without laborers his extensive works must come to 
a stop, presaging ruin. Gladly would he have shut 
the knowledge from the world, for a time, at least. 
With the men at the mill the best he could do was to 
make them promise to continue their work, and say 
nothing of the gold discovery for six weeks, by which 
time he hoped to have his flour-mill completed, and 

2 *Bigler, Diary, MS., 65-6, gives a joke which they undertook to. play on 
the Old Cap, as Marshall called Sutter. This was nothing less than to salt 
the mine in order that Sutter in his excitement might pass the bottle. Wim- 
mer s boy, running on before, picked up the gold scattered in the race for the 
harmless surprising of Sutter, and thus spoiled their sport. 

25 Indeed, Sutter claims that he picked with a small knife from a dry gorge 
a solid lump weighing nearly an ounce and a half, and regarded the tributaries 
as the richer sources. The work-people obtained an inkling of their discovery, 
although they sought henceforth to dampen the interest. One of the Indiana 
who seems to have worked in a southern mine published his knowledge. Pers. 
Hem., MS. 


his other affairs so arranged as to enable him to with 
stand the result. The men, indeed, were not yet 
prepared to relinquish good wages for the uncertain 
ties of gold-gathering. 

If only the land could be secured on which this 
gold was scattered for probably it did not extend far 
in any direction then interloping might be prevented, 
mining controlled, and the discovery made profitable. 
It was worth trying, at all events. Mexican grants 
being no longer possible, Sutter began by opening 
negotiations with the natives, after the mariner of the 
English colonists on the other side of the continent. 
Calling a council of the Culumas and some of their 
neighbors, the lords aboriginal of those lands, Sutter 
and Marshall obtained from them a three years lease 
of a tract some ten or twelve miles square, on payment 
of some shirts, hats, handkerchiefs, flour, and other 
articles of no great value, the natives meanwhile to 
be left unmolested in their homes. 26 Sutter then re 
turned to New Helvetia, and the great discovery was 

26 BiylerJ Diary, MS., 66. Marshall speaks of this as the consummation 
of an agreement we had made with this tribe of Indians in the month of 
September previous, to wit, that we should live with them in peace on the 
same laud. Discovery of Gold, in Hatchings Mag. , ii. 200. 


FEBRUARY, 1848. 




OCCASIONALLY instances occur where one s destiny, 
hitherto seemingly confined in the clouds, is let out 
in a flood, and if weak, the recipient is overwhelmed 
and carried down the stream by it; if he be strong, 
and makes avail of it, his fortune is secured; in any 
event, it is his opportunity. 

Opportunity here presented itself in the first in 
stance to a chosen dozen, none of whom appear to 
have taken due advantage of it. Having no realiza 
tion of their situation, they left the field to after- 
comers, who by direct or indirect means drew fortune 
from it. The chief actors, Marshall and Sutter, with 
proportionately greater interests at stake, primarily 
displayed no more skill than the others in making avail 
of opportunity, the former drifting away without one 
successful grasp, the latter making a brief stand 
against the torrent, only in the end to sink amidst the 
ruins of his projects and belongings. 


Sutter disclosed his weakness in several ways. Al 
though enjoining secrecy upon all concerned, and show 
ing extreme fear lest the discovery should be known by 
those about him, the inconstant Swiss could not him 
self resist the temptation of telling it to his friends at 
a distance. Writing Vallejo the 10th of February, 
he says: "I have made a discovery of a gold mine, 
which, according to experiments we have made, is ex 
traordinarily rich." 1 Moreover, not wholly satisfied 
with his Indian title, Sutter determined to despatch a 
messenger to Monterey, for the purpose of further 
securing the land to himself and Marshall through 
Colonel R. B. Mason, chief representative of the 
United States government in California. For this 
mission was chosen Charles Bennett, one of Marshall s 
associates, and standing next to him in intelligence 
and ability at the saw-mill. The messenger was in 
structed to say nothing about the discovery of gold, 
but to secure the land with mill, pasture, and mineral 
privileges, giving as a reason for including the last 
the appearance of lead and silver in the soil. 2 The 
man, however, was too weak for the purpose. With 
him in a buckskin bag he carried some six ounces of 
the secret, which, by the time he reached Benicia, 
became too heavy for him. There, in Pfister s store, 
hearing it said that coal had been found near Monte 
del Diablo, and that in consequence California would 
assume no small importance in the eyes of her new 
owners, Bennett could contain himself no longer. 
"Coal!" he exclaimed; "I have something here which 
will beat coal, and make this the greatest country in 
the world." Whereupon he produced his bag, and 
passed it around among his listeners. 3 

1 The accomplished potentate writes every man in his own language, though 
his Spanish is not much better than his English. " Y he hecho un descubri- 
miento de mina de oro, q e sigun hemos esperimentado es extraordinarimente 
rica. Vallejo, Docs, MS., xii. 332. 

2 This on the authority of Bigler. Diary of a Mormon, MS., 66. Some 
say that Bennett held contracts with Marshall under Sutter. HunCs Mer. Mag., 
xx. 59; but for this there is no good authority. He set out for Monterey 
toward the middle of February. 

3 Several claim the honor of carrying the first gold beyond the precincts of 


On reaching San Francisco Bennett heard of one 
Isaac Humphrey, who, among other things, knew some 
thing of gold-mining. He had followed that occupa 
tion in Georgia, but hardly expected his talents in 
that direction to be called in requisition in California. 
Bennett sought an introduction, and again brought 
forth his purse. Thus Sutter s secret was in a tine 
way of being kept I Humphrey at once pronounced 
the contents of the purse to be gold. At Monterey 
Mason declined to make any promise respecting title to 
lands, 4 and Bennett consoled himself for the failure of 
his mission by offering further glimpses of his treasure. 

In order to prevent a spreading infection among 
his dependents, Sutter determined that so far as pos 
sible all communication with the saw-mill should for 
the present be stopped. Toward the latter end of 
February, however, he found it necessary to send 
thither provisions. 5 To a Swiss teamster, as. a per- 

the California Valley. Bidwell, California 1841-8, MS., 231, says he was 
the first to proclaim the news in Sonoma and S. F. I well remember Vallejo s 
words, he writes, when I told him of the discovery and where it had taken 

lace. He said, "As the water flows through Sutter s mill-race, may the gold 
ow into Sutter s purse. " This must have been after or at the time of Ben 
nett s journey; I do not think it preceded it. Bidwell calls the chief ruler at 
Monterey Gov. Riley, instead of Col Mason; and if his memory is at fault 
upon so conspicuous a point, he might easily overlook the fact that Bennett 
preceded him. Furthermore, we have many who speak of meeting Bennett at 
S. F., and of examining his gold, but not one who mentions Bid well s name 
in that connection. Sutter was adopting a singular course, certainly, to have 
his secret kept. Gregson, Stat., MS., 8, thinks that the first gold was taken by 
McKinstry in Sutter s launch to S. F., and there delivered to Folsom. Such 
statements as the following, though made in good faith, amount to little in 
determining as to the first. That first seen or known by a person to him is first, 
notwithstanding another s first may have been prior to his. 1 saw the first 
gold that was brought down to S. F. It was in Howard & Mellus store, 
and in their charge. It was in four-ounce vial, or near that size. Ayer s Per 
sonal Adv., MS., 2. 

* Sherman, Memoirs, i. 40, states that this application was made by two 
persons, from which one might infer that Humphrey accompanied Bennett 
to Monterey. They there displayed about half an ounce of placer gold. 
They presented a letter from Sutter, to which Mason replied that Califor 
nia was yet a Mexican province, simply held by us as a conquest; that no laws 
of the U. S. yet applied to it, much less the land laws or preemption laws, 
which could only apply after a public survey. See, further, Buff am 8 Six 
Months in Gold Mines, 68; Bigler s Diary of a Mormon, MS., 66; BidwelVs Cal 
ifornia 1841-8, MS., 231; Browne s Min. Res., 14; HitteLVs JJist. S. F., 125. 
Gregson, Stat., MS., says that Bennett died in Oregon. 

6 We had salt salmon and boiled wheat, and we, the discoverers of gold, 


son specially reliable, this mission was intrusted. 
The man would indeed die rather than betray any 
secret of his kind countryman and master; but alas I 
he loved intoxication, that too treacherous felicity. 
Arrived at Coloma, the teamster encountered one of 
the Wimmer boys, who exclaimed triumphantly, "We 
have found gold up here." The teamster so ridiculed 
the idea that the mother at length became some 
what nettled, and to prove her son truthful, she not 
only produced the stuff, but gave some to the teamster. 
Returned to the fort, his arduous duty done, the man 
must have a drink. Often he had tried at Smith and 
Brannan s store to quench his thirst from the whis- 
kay barrel, and pay for the same in promises. On 
this occasion he presented at the counter a bold front 
and demanded a bottle of the delectable, at the same 
time laying down the dust. " What is that? " asked 
Smith. " Gold," was the reply. Smith thought the 
fellow was quizzing him; nevertheless he spoke of it 
to Sutter, who finally acknowledged the fact. 8 

About the time of Bennett s departure Sutter s 
schooner went down the river, carrying specimens of 
the new discovery, and Folsom, the quartermaster in 
San Francisco, learned of the fact, informed, it is said, 
by McKinstry. Then John Bidwell went to the Bay 
and spread the news broadcast. Smith, store-keeper 
at the fort, sent word of it to his partner, Brannan; 
and thus by various ways the knowledge became gen 

It was not long before the saw-mill society, which 
numbered among its members one woman and two 

were living on that when gold was found, and we were suffering from scurvy 
afterward. Gregson s Statement, MS., 9. An infliction this man might un 
dergo almost anywhere, being, if like his manuscript, something of a scurvy 
fellow. Mark the we, the discoverers of gold, before noticed. Gregson 
was not at the mill when gold was found. 

6 I should have sent my Indians, groaned Sutter 28 years afterward. It 
soems that the gentle Swiss always found his beloved aboriginals far less 
treacherous than the white-skinned parasites. See Suiter s Rem. , MS. , 171-3; 
Inter Pocula, this series; Hutchings* Mag. , ii. 196; Dunbar^s Romance of the 


boys, found the matter, in common with the others, 
too weighty for them. For a time affairs here pro 
ceeded much as usual. The men, who for the most 
part were honest and conscientious, had pledged their 
word to six weeks work, and they meant to keep it. 
The idea of self-sacrifice, if any such arose, was tem 
pered by the thought that perhaps after all there was 
but little gold, and that little confined within narrow 
limits; hence if they abandoned profitable service for 
an uncertainty, they might find themselves losers in 
the end. As a matter of course, they could have no 
conception of the extent and power of the spirit they 
had awakened. It was not necessary, however, that 
on Sundays they should resist the worship of Mam 
mon, who was indeed now fast becoming the chief god 

The historic tail-race, where first in these parts be 
came incarnate this deity, more potent presently than 
either Christ or Krishna, commanded first attention; 
indeed, for some time after gold had been found in 
other places, it remained the favorite picking-ground 
of the mill-men. Their only tools as yet were their 
knives, and with these from the seams and crevices 
each person managed to extract metal at the rate of 
from three to eight dollars a day. For the purpose 
of calculating their gains, they constructed a light 
pair of wooden scales, in which was weighed silver 
coin against their gold. Thus, a Mexican real de 
plata was balanced by two dollars worth of gold, 
which they valued at sixteen dollars the ounce, less 
than it was really worth, but more than could be ob 
tained for it in the mines a few months later. Gold- 
dust which balanced a silver quarter of a dollar was 
deemed worth four dollars, and so on. 

On the 6th of February, the second Sunday after 
Marshall s discovery, while the others were as! 
busied in the tail-race, Henry Bigler and James Bar- 
ger crossed the river, and from a bare rock opposite 
the mill, with nothing but their pocket-knives, ob- 


tained together gold to the value of ten dollars. The 
Saturday following, Bigler descended the river half a 
mile, when, seeing on the other side some rocks left 
bare by a land-slide, he stripped and crossed. There, 
in the seams of the rocks, were particles of the pre 
cious stuff exposed to view, of which the next day he 
gathered half an ounce, and the Sunday following an 
ounce. Snow preventing work at the mill, on Tues 
day, the 22d, he set out for the same place, and ob 
tained an ounce and a half. Up to this time he had 
kept the matter to himself, carrying with him a gun 
on pretext of shooting ducks, in order to divert suspi 
cion. Questioned closely on this occasion, he told his 
comrades what he had been doing, and the following 
Sunday five of them accompanied him to the same 
spot, and spent the day hunting in the sand. All 
were well rewarded. In the opposite direction suc 
cess proved no less satisfactory. Accompanied by 
James Gregson, Marshall ascended the river three 
miles; and at a place which he named Live Oak Bar, 
if we may believe Gregson, they picked up with their 
fingers without digging a pint of gold, in pieces up to 
the size of a bean. 7 Thus was gradually enlarged the 
area of the gold-field 

About the 21st of February, Bigler wrote to certain 
of his comrades of the Mormon battalion Jesse Mar 
tin, Israel Evans, and Ephraim Green, who were at 
work on Sutter s flour-mill informing them of the 
discovery of gold, and charging them to keep it secret, 
or to tell it to those only who could be trusted. The 
result was the arrival, on the evening of the 27th, of 
three men, Sidney Willis, Fiefield, and Wilford Hud- 

1 Statement of James Gregson, MS., passim. The author was an English 
man, who came to California in 1845 and engaged with Sutter as a whip- 
sawyer. Lumber then cost $30 a thousand at Sutter s Fort. He served in 
the war, and after the discovery of gold went to Coloma, accompanied by his 
wife. Throwing up his engagement with Marshall, he secured that year 
$3,000 in gold-dust. Sutter appears to have, in February, already set some 
Indians to pick gold round the mill. His claim to this ground was long 



son, who said they had come to search for gold. 
Marshall received them graciously enough, and gave 
them permission to mine in the tail-race. Accord 
ingly, next morning they all went there, and soon 
Hudson picked up a piece weighing six dollars. Thus 
encouraged they continued their labors with fair 
success till the 2d of March, when they felt obliged 
to return to the flour-mill; for to all except Martin, 
their informant, they had intimated that their trip to 

,JLV i&dMmk 

X ^N V A.V ^ .} , :,, . .\n t:t, , /-/ /, 


the saw-mill was merely to pay a visit, and to shoot 
deer. Willis and Hudson followed the stream to con 
tinue the search for gold, and Fiefield, accompanied 
by Bigler, pursued the easier route by the road. On 
meeting at the flour-mill, Hudson expressed disgust 
at being able to show only a few fine particles, not 
more than half a dollar in value, which he and his 
companion had found at a bar opposite a little island, 
about half-way down the river. Nevertheless the 
disease worked its way into the blood of other Mor- 


mon boys, and Ephraim Green and Ira Willis, brother 
of Sidney Willis, urged the prospectors to return, 
that together they might examine the place which 
had shown indications of gold. It was with difficulty 
that they prevailed upon them to do so. Willis and 
Hudson, however, finally consented; and the so lately 
slighted spot presently became famous as the rich 
Mormon Diggings, the island, Mormon Island, taking 
its name from these battalion boys who had first 
found gold there. 

It is told elsewhere how the Mormons came to 
California, some in the ship Brooklyn, and some as a 
battalion by way of Santa Fe, and how they went 
hence to the Great Salt Lake, part of them, however, 
remaining permanently or for a time nearer the sea 
board. I will only notice here, amidst the scenes 
now every day becoming more and more absorbing, 
bringing to the front the strongest passions in man s 
nature, how at the call of what they deemed duty 
these devotees of their religion unhesitatingly laid 
down their wealth-winning implements, turned their 
back on what all the world was just then making 
ready with hot haste and mustered strength to grasp 
at and struggle for, and marched through new toils and 
dangers to meet their exiled brethren in the desert. 

It will be remembered that some of the emigrants 


by the Brooklyn had remained at San Francisco, some 
at New Helvetia, while others had settled on the 
Stanislaus River and elsewhere. A large detachment 
of the late Mormon battalion, disbanded at Los An 
geles, was on its way to Great Salt Lake, when, arriv 
ing at Sutter s Fort, the men stopped to work a while, 
no less to add a little to their slender store of clothing 
and provisions than to await a better season for the 
perilous journey across the mountains. It was while 
thus employed that gold had been discovered. And 
now, refreshed and better fitted, as spring approached 
their minds once more turned toward the original pur- 



pose. They had promised Suiter to stand by him and 
finish the saw-mill; this they did, starting it running" 
on the llth of March. Henry Bigler was still there. 

On the 7th of April Bigler, Stephens, and Brown 
presented themselves at the fort to settle accounts 
with Sutter, and discuss preliminaries for their jour 
ney with their comrades. The 1st of June was fixed 
upon for the start. Sutter was to be informed of 
their intention, that he might provide other workmen. 
Horses, cattle, and seeds were to be bought from him ; 
also two brass cannon. Three of their number had 
to precede to pioneer a route ; eight men were ready 
to start as an overland express to the States, as the 
loved land east of the Mississippi was then called. It 
was not, however, until about a month later that the 
Mormons could move, for the constantly increasing 
gold excitement disarranged their plans and drew 
from their numbers. 

In the mean time the thrifty saints determined to 
improve the opportunity, that they might carry to 
their desert rest as much of the world s currency as 
possible. On the llth of April, Bigler, Brown, and 
Stephens set out on their return to Coloma, camping 
fifteen miles above the flouring mill, on a creek. In 
the morning they began to search for gold and found 
ten dollars worth. Knowing that others of their 
fraternity were at work in that vicinity, they followed 
the stream upward and came upon them at Mormon 
Island, where seven had taken out that day $250. 8 
No little encouragement was added by this hitherto 
unparalleled yield, due greatly to an improvement in 
method by washing the dust-speckled earth in Indian 
baskets and bowls, and thus sifting out also finer parti 
cles. Under an agreement to divide the product of 

8 The seven men were Sidney Willis and Wilford Hudson, who had first 
found gold there, Ira Willis, Jesse B. Martin, Ephraim Green, Israel Evans, 
and James Sly. In regard to the names of the last two Bigler is not positive. 
Diary of a Mormon, MS., 76. See also Mendocino Democrat, Feb. 1, 1872; 
HitteWs Mining, 14; Sherman s Mem., i. 51; Gold Dis., Account by a Mormon, 
in Hayes CaL Mining, iii. 8; Oregon Bulletin, Jan. 12, 1872; Antioch Ledger, 
Feb. 3, 1872; ftndla s Stat., MS., 6; 7?oss StcU., MS., 14. 


their labor with Sutter and Marshall, who furnished 
tools and provisions, Bigler and his associates mined 
for two months, one mile below the saw-mill. 9 They 
stopped in the midst of their success, however, arid 
tearing themselves away from the fascination, they 
started on June 17th in search of a suitable rendez 
vous, where all the saints might congregate prior to 
beginning their last pilgrimage across the mountains. 
They found such a spot the next day, near where 
Placerville now stands, calling it Pleasant Valley. 
Parties arrived one after another, some driving loose 
horses into a prepared timber corral, others swelling 
the camp with wagons, cattle, and effects; and so the 
gathering continued till the 3d of July, when a gen 
eral move was made. As the wagons rolled up along 
the divide between the American River and the 
Cosunines on the national 4th, their cannon thundered 
independence before the high Sierra. It was a strange 
sight, exiles for their faith thus delighting to honor 
the power that had driven them as outcasts into the 

The party consisted of forty-five men and one 
woman, the wife of William Coory. It was by almost 
incredible toil that these brave men cut the way for 
their wagons, lifted them up the stony ascents, and 
let them down the steep declivities. Every step 
added to the danger, as heralded by the death of 

O t/ 

the three pioneers, Daniel Browett, Ezra H. Allen, 
and Henderson Cox, who were found killed by the 
Indians of the Sierra. And undaunted, though sor 
rowful, and filled with many a foreboding, the survi 
vors descended the eastern slope and wended their 
way through the thirsty desert; and there we must 
leave them and return to our gold-diggers. 

9 Having an understanding with Mr Marshall to dig on shares. . .so long 
as we worked on his claims or land. Bigler, Diary of a Mormon, MS., 75. 
A Mormon writing in the Times and Transcript says: They undertook to 
make us give them half the gold we got for the privilege of digging on their 
land. This was afterward reduced to one third, and in a few weeks was 
given up altogether. Mrs Wimtner states that Sutter and Marshall claimed 
thirty per cent of the gold found on their grant; Brannan for a time secured 
ten per cent on the pretext of tithes. 




As when some carcass, hidden in sequestered nook, 
draws from every near and distant point myriads of 
discordant vultures, so drew these little flakes of gold 
the voracious sons of men. The strongest human 
appetite was aroused the sum of appetites this 
yellow dirt embodying the means for gratifying love, 
hate, lust, and domination. This little scratch upon 
the earth to make a backwoods mill-race touched the 
cerebral nerve that quickened humanity, and sent a 
thrill throughout the system. It tingled in the ear 
and at the finger-ends ; it buzzed about the brain and 
tickled in the stomach; it warmed the blood and 
swelled the heart; new fires were kindled on the 
hearth-stones, new castles builded in the air. If 
Satan from Diablo s peak had sounded the knell of 
time; if a heavenly angel from the Sierra s height 
had heralded the millennial day; if the blessed Christ 
himself had risen from that ditch and proclaimed to 
all mankind amnesty their greedy hearts had never 
half so thrilled. 

The effect of the gold discovery could not be long 
confined to the narrow limits of Sutter s domain. The 



information scattered by the Swiss and his dependents 
had been further disseminated in different directions 
by others. Nevertheless, while a few like Hum 
phrey, the Georgia miner, responded at once to the 
influence, as a rule little was thought of it at first, 
particularly by those at a distance. The nature and 
extent of the deposits being unknown, the significance 
or importance of the discovery could not be appre 
ciated. It was not uncommon at any time to hear of 
gold or other metals being found here, there, or any 
where, in America, Europe, or Asia, and nothing 
come of it. To emigrants, among other attractions, 
gold had been mentioned as one of the possible or prob 
able resources of California; but to plodding agricul 
turists or mechanics the idea of searching the wilder 
ness for gold would have been deemed visionary, or 
the fact of little moment that some one somewhere 
had found gold. 1 When so intelligent a man as Sern- 
ple at Benicia was told of it he said, "I would give 
more for a good coal mine than for all the gold mines 
in the universe." At Sonoma, Vallejo passed the 
matter by with a piece of pleasantry. 

The first small flakes of gold that Captain Folsom 
examined at San Francisco he pronounced mica; he 
did not believe a man who came down some time after 
with twenty ounces when he claimed to have gathered 
it in eight days. Some time in April Folsom wrote 
to Mason at Monterey, making casual mention of the 
existing rumor of gold on the Sacramento. In May 
Bradley, a friend of Folsom s, went to Monterey, and 
was asked by Mason if he knew anything of this gold 
discovery on the American River. "I have heard of 

1 The people here did not believe it, says Findla, they thought it was a 
hoax. They had found in various places about S. F., notably on Pacific Street, 
specimens of different minerals, gold and silver among them, but in very small 
quantities; and so they were not inclined to believe in the discovery at Sut- 
ter s mill. Gillespie testifies to the same. He did not at all credit the story. 
Three samples in quills and vials were displayed before the infection took in the 
town. Gillexpie s Vig. Com., MS., 4; Findla s Stat., MS., 4-6; Willetfs Thirty 
Years, 19-20. 


it," replied Bradley. "A few fools have hurried to 
the place, but you may be sure there is nothing in it." 

On Wednesday, the 15th of March, the Califomian, 
one of the two weekly newspapers then published at 
San Francisco, contained a brief paragraph to the 
effect that gold had been discovered in considerable 
quantities at Sutter s saw-mill. 2 The editor hazarded 
the remark that California was probably rich in min 
erals. On the following Saturday the other weekly 
paper, the California Star, mentioned, without edito 
rial comment, that gold had been found forty miles 
above Sutter s Fort. 

The items, if noticed at all, certainly created no 
excitement. Little if any more was thought of gold 
probabilities than those of silvery or quicksilver, or 
coal, and not half as much as of agriculture and fruit 
growing. 3 This was in March. 

In April a somewhat altered tone is noticed in ac 
cording greater consideration to the gold discoveries. 4 

2 This, the first printed notice of the discovery, ran as follows: Gold mine 
found. In the newly made raceway of the saw-mill recently erected by Cap 
tain Sutler on the American fork, gold has been found in considerable quan - 
tities. One person brought thirty dollars worth to New Helvetia, gathered 
there in a short time. California no doubt is rich in mineral wealth; great 
chances here for scientific capitalists. Gold has been found in every part of 
the country. 

3 The editor of the Star, writing the 25th of March, says: A good move 
it would be for all property holders in the place, who have no very settled 
purpose of improving the town, and distant ideas of rare chances at specula 
tion, to employ upon their unoccupied lands some few of our liquor-house 
idlers, and in the process of ploughing, harrowing, hoeing, and planting it is 
not idle to believe some hidden treasure would be brought out. Some silver 
mines are wanted in this vicinity, could they be had without experiencing 
the ill effects following in the train of their discovery. Monterey, our cap 
ital, rests on a bed of quicksilver, so say the cute and knowing. We say if 
we can discover ourselves upon a bed of silver we, for our single self, shall 
straightway throw up the pen and cry aloud with Hood: A pickaxe or a 
spade. On the same date he says: So great is the quantity of gold taken 
from the mine recently found at New Helvetia that it has become an article 
of traffic in that vicinity. 

4 Fourgeaud, in a serial article on The Prospects of California, writes in 
the Star the 1st of April: We saw, a few days ago, a beautiful specimen of 
gold from the mine newly discovered on the American fork. From all ac 
counts the mine is immensely rich, and already we learn that gold from it, 
collected at random and without any trouble, has become an article of trade 
at the upper settlements. This precious metal abounds in this country. We 
h;ive heard of several other newly discovered mines of gold, but as these re 
ports are not yet authenticated, \ve shall pass over them. However, it is well 
known that there is a pJacero of gold a few miles from the Ciudad de los An- 


Yet the knowing ones are backward about committing 
themselves; and when overcome by curiosity to see 
the mines, they pretend business elsewhere rather 
than admit their destination. Thus E. C. Kemble, 
editor of the Star, announces on the 15th his inten 
tion to " ruralize among the rustics of the country for 
a few weeks." Hastening to the mines he makes his 
observations, returns, and in jerky diction flippantly 
remarks : " Great country, fine climate ; visit this great 
valley, we would advise all who have not yet done so. 
See it now. Full-flowing streams, mighty timber, 
large crops, luxuriant clover, fragrant flowers, gold 
and silver." This is all Mr Kemble says of his journey 
in his issue of the 6th of May, the first number after 
his return. Whether he walked as one blind and void 
of intelligence, or saw more than his interests seem- 


ingly permitted him to tell, does not appear. 

There were men, however, more observant and out 
spoken than the astute editor, some of whom left town 
singly, or in small parties of seldom more than two 
or three. They said little, as if fearing ridicule, but 
crossed quietly to Sauzalito, and thence took the di 
rection of Sonoma and Sutter s Fort. The mystery 
of the movement in itself proved an incentive, to which 
accumulating reports and specimens gave intensity, till 
it reached a climax with the arrival of several well- 
laden diggers, bringing bottles, tin cans, and buckskin 
bags filled with the precious metal, which their owners 

geles, and another on the San Joaquin. In another column of the same issue 
we read that at the American River diggings the gold is found at a depth 
of three feet below the surface, and in a strata of soft sand-rock. Explorations 
made southward to the distance of twelve miles, and to the north five miles, 
report the continuance of this strata and the mineral equally abundant. The 
vein is from twelve to eighteen feet in thickness. Most advantageously to 
this new mine, a stream of water flows in its immediate neighborhood, and 
the washing will be attended with comparative ease. These, and the two 
items already alluded to in the Star of the 18th and 25th of March, are the 
only notices in this paper of the diggings prior to the 22d of April, when it 
states: We have been informed, from unquestionable authority, that another 
still more extensive and valuable gold mine lias been discovered towards the 
head of the American fork, in the Sacramento Valley. We have seen several 
specimens taken from it, to the amount of eight or ten ounces of pure virgin 
gold. The Calif or nian said even less on the subject during the same period. 


treated with a familiarity hitherto unknown in these 
parts to such worshipful wealth. Among the comers 
was Samuel Brannan, the Mormon leader, who, hold 
ing up a bottle of dust in one hand, and swinging his 
hat with the other, passed along the street shouting, 
" Gold ! Gold ! Gold from the American River I" 5 

This took place in the early part of May. The 
conversion of San Francisco was complete. Those 
who had hitherto denied a lurking faith now unblush- 
ingly proclaimed it; and others, who had refused to 
believe even in specimens exhibited before their eyes, 
hesitated no longer in accepting any reports, however 
exaggerated, and in speeding them onward duly mag 
nified. 6 Many were thrown into a fever of excitement, 7 
and all yielded more or less to the subtle influence of 

5 He took his hat off and swung it, shouting aloud in the streets. Bigler s 
Diary, MS. , 79. Evans in the Oregon Bulletin makes the date about the 12th 
of May. See also Findla s Stab., MS., 4-6; Ross Stat. t MS., 12; Jf. Helv. 
Diary, passim. Gillespie, Vig. Com., MS., 4, refers to three samples seen by 
him, the third was a whole quinine-bottle full, which set all the people wild. 

6 By the 10th of June the sapient sceptic, Kemble, turned completely 
around in expressing his opinion, denying that he had ever discouraged, not 
to say denounced, the employment in which over two thirds of the white 
population of this country are engaged. But it was too late to save either 
his reputation or his journal. There were not wanting others still to denounce 
in vain and loudly all mines and miners. I doubt, sir, one exclaims, in the 
Californian, if ever the sun shone upon such a farce as is now being enacted 
in California, though I fear it may prove a tragedy before the curtain drops. 
I consider it your duty, Mr Editor, as a conservator of the public morals 
and welfare, to raise your voice against the thing. It is to be hoped that 
General Mason will despatch the volunteers to the scene of action, and send 
these unfortunate people to their homes, and prevent others from going 
thither. This man quickly enough belied a wisdom which led him unwit 
tingly to perform the part of heavy simpleton in the drama. Dunbar, Romance 
of the Age, 102, with his usual accuracy, places this communication in the 
Alta California, May 24, 1848 impossible, from the fact that on that day no 
paper was issued in California, and iheAlta never saw the light until the fol 
lowing January. 

7 Carson, Rec., 4, who for a long time had rejected all reports, was finally 
convinced by a returning digger, who opened his well-tilled bag before him. 
I looked on for a moment; he writes, a frenzy seized my soul; unbidden 
my legs performed some entirely new movements of polka steps I took 
several houses were too small for me to stay in; I was soon in the street in 
search of necessary outfits; piles of gold rose up before me at every step; 
castles of marble, dazzling the eye with their i*ich appliances; thousands of 
slaves bowing to my beck and call; myriads of fair virgins contending with 
each other for my love were among the fancies .of my fevered imagination. 
The Rothschilds, Girards, and Astors appeared to me but poor people; in 
short, I had a very violent attack of the gold fever. For further particulars, 
see Larkirfs Doc,, MS., iv. passim. 


the malady. 8 Men hastened to arrange their affairs, 
dissolving partnerships, disposing of real estate, and 
converting other effects into ready means for depart 
ure. Within a few days an exodus set in that startled 
those who had placed their hopes upon the peninsular 
metropolis. 9 "Fleets of launches left this place on 
Sunday and Monday," exclaims Editor Kemble, 
"closely stowed with human beings. . .Was there 
ever anything so superlatively silly?" 10 But sneers, 
expostulations, and warnings availed not with a multi 
tude so possessed. 

The nearest route was naturally sought by water 
up the Bay into the Sacramento, and thence where 
fortune beckoned. The few available sloops, lighters, 
arid nondescript craft were quickly engaged arid filled 
for the mines. Many who could not obtain passage 
in the larger vessels sold all their possessions, when 
necessary, and bought a small boat; 11 every little 
rickety cockleshell was made to serve the purpose; 
and into these they bundled their effects, set up a sail, 
and steered for Carquines Strait. Then there were 
two routes by land : one across to Sauzalito by launch, 
and thence by mule, mustang, or on foot, by way of 
San Rafael and Sonoma, into the California Valley; 
and the other round the southern end of the Bay and 
through Livermore Pass. 


8 Brooks writes in his diary, under date of May 10th: Nothing has been 
talked of but the new gold placer, as people call it. Several parties, we 
hear, are already made up to visit the diggings. May 13th: The gold excite 
ment increases daily, as several fresh arrivals from the mines have been re 
ported at San Francisco. Four Months among the Gold-finders, 14-15. 

9 Several hundred people must have left here during the last few days, 
writes Brooks in his diary, under date of May 20th. In the month of May 
it was computed that at least 150 people had left S. F., and every day since 
was adding to their number. Annals S. F., 203. The census taken the 
March previous showed 810, of whom 177 were women and 60 children; so 
that 150 would be over one fourth of the male population. See also letter of 
Bassham to Cooper, May 15th, in Vallejo, Doc., MS., xxxv. 47. Those with 
out means have only to go to a merchant and borrow from 1,000 to $2,000, 
and give him an order on the gold mines, is the way Coutts, Diary, MS., 1 13, 
puts it. 

10 Cat. Star, May 20, 1848. Kemble, who is fast coming to grief, curses 
the whole business, and pronounces the mines all sham, a supurb (sic) take- 
in as was ever got up to guzzle the gullible. 

11 Little row-boats, that before were probably sold for $50, were sold for 
$400 or $500. Gillexpie, Vig. Com., MS., 3. 


Roads there were none save the trails between larger 
settlements. With the sun for compass, and moun 
tain peaks for finger-posts, new paths were marked 
across the trackless plains and through the untrodden 
woods. Most of the gold-seekers could afford a horse, 
and even a pack-animal, which was still to be had for 
fifteen dollars, 12 and thus proceed with greater speed 
to the goal, to the envy of the number that had to 
content themselves with wagons, which, though white- 
covered and snug, with perhaps a family inside, were 
cumbersome and slow, especially when drawn by oxen. 
Often a pedestrian was passed trudging along under 
his load, glad to get his effects carried across the stream 
by some team, although he himself might have to 
breast the current swimming, perchance holding to 
the tail of some horse. There were ferries only at 
rare points. Charles L. Ross 13 had left for the mines 
the last of April, by way of Alviso, and crossed the 
strait of Carquines by Semple s ferry at Martinez. 
At this time he was the only person on the boat. 
When he returned, less than a fortnight after, there 
were 200 wagons on their way to the foothills, wait 
ing their turn to cross at the ferry. 14 

In the general eagerness personal comfort became 

12 One rider rented his animals at the mines for f 100 per week. Brooks 
crossed to Sauzalito with four companions who were attended by an Indian 
servant to drive their six horses laden with baggage and camp equipments. 
Vallejo, Hist. CaL, MS., iv., points out that Sonoma reaped benefit as a way- 

13 Experiences of a Pioneer of 1847 in California, by Charles L. Ross, is the 
title of a manuscript written at the dictation of Mr Ross by my stenographer, 
Mr Leighton, in 1878. Mr Ross left New Jersey in Nov. 1846, passed round 
Cape Horn in the bark Whiton, arriving in Cal. in April 1847. The very in 
teresting information contained in this manuscript is all embodied in the 
pages of this history. 

14 They having collected there in that short time men, women, and chil 
dren, families who had left their homes, and gathered in there from down the 
coast. They had organized a committee, and each man was registered on his 
arrival, and each took his turn in crossing. The boat ran night and day, 
carrying each time two wagons and horses and the people connected with 
the. i. Some of them had to camp there quite a while. After a time somebody 
else got a scow and started another ferry, and they got across faster. Ross* 
Experiences, MS. , 1 1-12. Semple obtains from passengers some $20 per day, 
and hass not a single boatman to help him. Only one man has offered to re 
main, and he only for two weeks at $25 a week. Letter of Larkin to Mason 
from San Jos6, May 26, 1848, iu Doc. Hist. CaL, MS. 


of secondary consideration. Some started without a 
dollar, or with insufficient supplies and covering, often 
to suffer severely in reaching the ground; but once 
there they expected quickly to fill their pockets with 
what would buy the services of their masters, and ob 
tain for them abundance to eat. Many were fed while 
on the way as by the ravens of Midas; for there were 
few in California then or since who would see a fellow- 
being starve. But if blankets and provisions were 
neglected, none overlooked the all-important shovel, 
the price for which jumped from one dollar to six, ten, 
or even more, 16 and stores were rummaged for pick 
axes, hoes, bottles, vials, snuff-boxes, and brass tubes, 
the latter for holding the prospective treasure. 16 

Through June the excitement continued, after 
which there were few left to be excited. Indeed, by 
the middle of this month the abandonment of San 
Francisco was complete; that is to say, three fourths 
of the male population had gone to the mines. It was 
as if an epidemic had swept the little town so lately 
bustling with business, or as if it was always early 
morning there. Since the presence of United States 
forces San Francisco had put on pretensions, and 
scores of buildings had been started. " But now," 
complains the Star, the 27th of May, "stores are 
closed and places of business vacated, a large number 
of houses tenantless, various kinds of mechanical labor 
suspended or given up entirely, and nowhere the 
pleasant hum of industry salutes the ear as of late; 
but as if a curse had arrested our onward course of 
enterprise, everything wears a desolate and sombre 
look, everywhere all is dull, monotonous, dead." 17 

15 I am informed $50 has been offered for one, writes Larkin on June 1st. 

16 Earthen jars and even barrels have been put in requisition, observes 
the Calif or nian of Aug. 5th. 

17 The following advertisement appears in this issue: The highest mar 
ket price will be paid for gold, either cash or merchandise, by Mellus & How 
ard, Montgomery street. Again, by the same firm goods were offered for 
sale for cash, hides and tallow, or placera gold. C<d. Star, May 27, 1848. 

Of quite a different character was another notice in the same issue. Pay up 
before you go everybody knows where, the editor cries. Papers can be 
forwarded to Sutter s Fort with all regularity. But pay the printer, if you 


Real estate had dropped one half or more, and all 
merchandise not used in the mines declined, while 
labor rose tenfold in price. 18 

Spreading their valedictions on fly-sheets, the only 
two journals now faint dead away, the Californian on 
the 29th of May, and the Star on the 14th of June. 
" The whole country from San Francisco to Los An 
geles," exclaimed the former, "and from the seashore 
to the base of the Sierra Nevada, resounds to the sor 
did cry of gold! GOLD! ! GOLD I ! ! while the field is 
left half planted, the house half built, and everything 
neglected but the manufacture of shovels and pick 
axes, and the means of transportation to the spot 
where one man obtained $128 worth of the real stuff in 
one day s washing, and the average for all concerned 
is $20 per diem." Sadly spoke Kemble, he who vis 
ited the gold mines and saw nothing, he to whom 
within four weeks the whole thing was a sham, a 
superlatively silly sham, groaning within and without, 
but always in very bad English, informing the world 
that his paper " could not be made by magic, and the 
labor of mechanism was as essential to its existence 
as to all other arts;" and as neither men nor devils 

please, all you in arrears. See also Findla s Stat., MS., 4-6. After quite a 
busy life, during which he gained some pi ominence as editor of the Star and 
Californian and the Alia California, and later as government official and 
newspaper correspondent, Kemble died at the east the 10th of Feb. 188ii. 
He was a man highly esteemed in certain circles. 

18 Pay the cost of the house, and the lot would be thrown in. On the 
fifty- vara corner Pine and Kearny streets was a house which had cost $400 to 
build; both house and lot were offered for $350. Ross* Ex., MS., 12; Lar kin s 
Doc., MS., vi., 144. On the door of a score of houses was posted the notice, 
Gone to the Diggings! From San Jos6 Larkin writes to the governor, 
The improvement of Yerba Buenafor the present is done. Letter, May 26th, 
in Larkin s Doc. Hi$t. Gal., MS., vi. 74. Even yet the name San Francisco 
has not become familiar to those accustomed to that of Yerba Buena. See also 
Brooks Four Months, in which is written, under date of May 17th: Work 
people have struck. Walking through the town to-day I observed that 
laborers were employed only upon half a dozen of the fifty new buildings 
which were in the course of being run up. May 20th: Sweating tells me 
that his negro waiter has demanded and receives ten dollars a day. Larkin, 
writing from S. F. to Secretary Buchanan, June 1st, remarks that some par 
ties of from five to fifteen men have sent to this town and offered cooks $10 
to $15 a day for a few weeks. Mechanics and teamsters, earning the year 
past $5 to $8 per day, have struck and gone. . .A merchant lately from China 
has even lost his Chinese servant. 


could be kept to service, the wheels of progress here 
must rest a while. 

So also came to an end for a time the sittings of 
the town council, and the services of the sanctuary, 
all having gone after other gods. All through the 
Sundays the little church on the plaza was silent, and 
all through the week days the door of Alcalde Towns- 
end s office remained locked. As for the shipping, it 
was left to the anchor, even this dull metal some 
times being inconstant. The sailors departing, cap 
tain and officers could only follow their example. One 
commander, on observing the drift of affairs, gave 
promptly the order to put to sea. The crew refused 
to work, and that night gagged the watch, lowered 
the boat, and rowed away. In another instance the 
watch joined in absconding. Not long afterward a 
Peruvian brig entered the bay, the first within three 
weeks. The houses were there, but no one came out 
to welcome it. At length, hailing a Mexican who 
was passing, the captain learned that everybody had 
gone northward, where the valleys and mountains 
were of gold. On the instant the crew were off. 19 

19 So run these stories. Ferry, CaL, 306-13. The captain who sought to 
put to sea commanded the Flora, according to a letter in June of a merchant. 
Robinson s Gold Regions, 29-30; Revere s Tour of Duty, 254. One of the first 
vessels to be deserted was a ship of the Hudson s Bay Company lying at 
anchor in the bay; the sailors departing, the captain followed them, leaving 
the vessel in charge of his wife and daughter. McKinstry, in the Lancaster 
Examiner. Loud complaints appear in the Calif ornian, Sept. 5, 1848; every 
ship loses most of her crew within forty-eight hours after arrival. See Brackett, 
U. 8. Cavalry, 125-7. The first steamship, the California, arriving Feb. 28, 
1849, was immediately deserted by her crew; Forbes asked Jones of the U. S. 
squadron for men to take charge of the ship, but the poor commodore had 
none. Crosby s Stat., MS., 12; Annals S. F., 220; First Steamship Pioneers, 
124. To prevent desertion, the plan was tried of giving sailors two months 
furlough; whereby some few returned, but most of them preferred liberty, 
wealth, and dissipation to the tyranny of service. Swarfs Trip to the Gold 
Mines, in CaL Pioneers, MS., no. 49. Some Mexicans arriving, and finding 
the town depopulated of its natural defenders, broke into vacant houses and 
took what they would. The Dinner s Hand-Book, 53. See also the Calif or- 
nian, Aug. 4, 1848; George McKinstry, in Lancaster Examiner; Stockton I nd., 
Oct. 19, 1875; Saratov s Stat., MS., 3-4; Sac. 111., 7; Forbes* Gold Region, 
17-18; TuthilVsCaL, 235-44; Three Weeks in Gold Mine*, 4; Canon s Early 
Rec., 3-4; Lants, KaL, 24-31; Hayes Col. Cal. Fotes, v. 85; Revue des Deux 
Mondes, Feb. 1, 1849, 4G9; Quarterly Review, no. 91, 1852,508; HitteWs Min 
ing, 17; Brooks Four Months, 18; Overland Monthly, xi. 12-13; Ryan s Judges 
and Crim., 72-7; Am. Quat. Reg., ii. 288-95, giving the report s of Larkin, 


Other towns and settlements in California were no 
less slow than San Francisco to move under the new 
fermentation. Indeed, they were more apathetic, and 
were finally stirred into excitement less by the facts 
than by the example of the little metropolis. Yet the 
Mexicans were in madness no whit behind the Amer 
icans, nor the farmers less impetuous than townsmen 
when once the fury seized them. May had not wholly 
passed when at San Jose the merchant closed his 
store, or if the stock was perishable left open the doors 
that people might help themselves, and incontinently 
set out upon the pilgrimage. So the judge abandoned 
his bench and the doctor his patients; even the alcalde 
dropped the reins of government and went away with 
his subjects. 20 Criminals slipped their fetters and 

Mason, Jones, and Paymaster Rich on gold excitement; Wille.y s Decade Ser 
mons, 12-17; Glcason s Cath. Church, ii. 175-93; Sherman s Memoirs, i. 46-9; 
S. F. Directory, 1852-3, 8-9; 8. I. News, ii. 142-8, giving the extract of a 
letter from S. F., May 27th; Vallejo Recorder, March 14, 1848; Cal. Past 
and Present, 77; G dlc*pie\s Vig. Com., MS., 3-4; Findla s Stat., MS., 4-6. 
The Calif ornian newspaper revived shortly after its suspension in May. 

20 The alguacil, Henry Bee, had ten Indian prisoners under his charge in 
the lock-up, two of them charged with murder. These he would have turned 
over to the alcalde, but that functionary had already taken his departure. 
Bee was puzzled how to dispose of his wards, for though he was determined 
to go to the mines, it would never do to let them loose upon a community of 
women and children. Finally he took all the prisoners with him to the 
diggings, where they worked contentedly for him until other miners, jealous 
of Bee s success, incited them to revolt. By that time, however, the alguacil 
had made his fortune. So goes the story. San JO*Q Pioneer, Jan. 27, 1877. 
Writing Mason the 26th of May from San Jose", Larkin says: Last night sev 
eral of the most respectable American residents of this town arrived home 
from a visit to the gold regions; next week they with their families, and I 
think nine tenths of the foreign store-keepers, mechanics, and day-laborers of 
this place, and perhaps of San Francisco, leave for the Sacramento. West, a 
stable-keeper, had two brothers in the mines, who urged him at once to hasten 
thither and bring his family. Burn the barn if you cannot dispose of it 
otherwise, they said. C. L. Ross writes from the mines in April, Experience* 
from 1847, MS.: I found John M. Horner, of the mission of San Jose", who 
told me he had left about 500 acres of splendid wheat for the cattle 
to roam over at will, he and his family having deserted their place en 
tirely, and started off for the mines. J. Belden, Nov. 6th, writes Lar 
kin from San Jose": The town is full of people coming from and going to 
the gold mines. A man just from there told me he saw the governor and 
Squire Colton there, in rusty rig, scratching gravel for gold, but with 
little success. Larkirfs Doc., MS., vi. 219. And so in the north. Semple, 
writing Larkin May 19th, says that in three days there would not be two 
men left in Benicia; and Cooper, two days later, declared that everybody was 
leaving except Brant and Semple. Larkin s Doc., MS., \i. 111,116; Valhjo, 
Doc., MS., xii. 344. From Sonoma some one wrote in the California^, Aug. 
5th, that the town was wellnigh depopulated. Not a laboring man or 


hastened northward; their keepers followed in pur 
suit, if indeed they had not preceded, but they took 
care not to find them. Soldiers fled from their posts; 
others were sent for them, and none returned. Val 
uable land grants were surrendered, and farms left 
tenantless; waving fields of grain stood abandoned, 
perchance opened to the roaming cattle, and gardens 
were left to run to waste. The country seemed as if 
smitten by a plague. 21 

All along down the coast from Monterey to Santa 
Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego, it was the 
same. Towns and country were wellnigh depopu 
lated. There the fever raged fiercest during the three 

O O 

summer months. At the capital a letter from Larkin 
gave the impulse, and about the same time, upon the 
statement of Swan, four Mormons called at Monterey 
en route for Los Angeles, who were reported to carry 
100 pounds avoirdupois of gold gathered in less than 
a month at Mormon Island. This was in June. A 
fortnight after the town was depopulated, 1,000 start 
ing from that vicinity within a week. 22 At San Fran- 
mechanic can be obtained in town. Vallejo says that the first notice of gold 
having been discovered was conveyed to Sonoma through a flask of gold-dust 
sent by Sutter to clear a boat-load of wheat which had been forwarded in part 
payment for the Ross property, but lay seized for debt at Sonoma. Gov. 
Boggs, then alcalde of Sonoma, and I, says Vallejo, started at once for Sac 
ramento to test the truth of the report, and found that Sutter, Marshall, and 
others had been taking out gold for some time at Coloma. . . \Ve came back to 
Sonoma, and such was the enthusiasm of the people that the town and entire 
country was soon deserted. Vallejo s Oration at Sonoma, July 4, 1876, in 
Sonoma Democrat, July 8, 1876. The general evidently forgets, or at all 
events ignores, the many rumors current prior to the reception of the flask, 
as well as the positive statement with proofs of friends and passers-by. 

21 Such is Mason s report. Maria Aiitonia Pico de Castro, announcing 
from Monterey to her son Manuel in Mexico the grand discovery, says that 
everybody is crazy for the gold; meanwhile stock is comparatively safe from 
thieves, but on the other hand hides and tallow are worth nothing. Doc. 
Hist. CaL, MS., i. 505. At Santa Cruz A. A. Hecox and eleven others peti 
tioned the alcalde the 30th of Dec. for a year s extension of time in comply 
ing with the conditions of the grants of land obtained by them according 
to the usual form. Under the pressure of the gold excitement labor had 
become so scarce and high that they found it impossible to have lumber drawn 
for houses and fences. The petition was granted. 

22 Swan s Trip, 1-3; Buffuiris Six Months, 68; Carson s Rec., 4. One 
day, says Carson, who was then at Monterey, I saw a form, bent and filthy, 
approaching me, and soon a cry of recognition was given between us. He was 
an old acquaintance, and had been one of the first to visit the mines. Now 
be stood before me. His hair hung out of his hat; his chin with beard was 


cisco commerce had been chiefly affected; here it was 
government that was stricken. Mason s small force 
was quickly thinned; and by the middle of July, if we 
may believe the Reverend Colton, who never was 
guilty of spoiling a story by too strict adherence to 
truth, the governor and general-in-chief of California 
was cooking his own dinner. 23 

In a proclamation of July 25th, Colonel Mason 
called on the people to assist in apprehending desert 
ers. He threatened the foothills with a dragoon 
force; but whence were to come the dragoons? The 
officers were as eager to be off as the men ; many of 
them obtained leave to go, and liberal furloughs were 

O * O 

granted to the soldiers, for those who could not obtain 
leave went without leave. As the officers who re 
mained could no longer afford to live in their accus 
tomed way, a cook s wages being $300 a month, they 
were allowed to draw rations in kind, which they ex 
changed for board in private families. 24 But even 

black, and his buckskins reached to his knees. The man had a bag of gold 
on his back. The sight of its contents started Carson on his way at once. In 
May Larkin had prophesied that by June the town would be without inhabi 
tants. June 1st Mason at Monterey wrote Larkin at S. F. : The golden-yel 
low fever has not yet, I believe, assumed here its worst type, though the 
premonitory symptoms are beginning to exhibit themselves, and doubtless 
the epidemic will pass over Monterey, leaving the marks of its ravages, as it 
has done at S. F. and elsewhere. Take care you don t become so charged 
with its malaria as to inoculate and infect us all when you return. Jackson 
McDuffee, addressing Larkin on the same date, says: Monterey is very dull, 
nothing doing, the gold fever is beginning to take a decided effect here, and a 
large party will leave for the Sacramento the last of the week. Shovels, 
spades, picks, and other articles wanted by these wild adventurers are in 
great demand. Schallenberger on the 8th of June tells Larkin that a great 
many are leaving Monterey. Times duller than when you left. In Sept. 
there was not a doctor in the town, and Mrs Larkin who was lying ill with 
fever had to do without medical attendance. 

23 Gen. Mason, Lieut Lanman, and myself forma mess... This morning 
for the fortieth time we had to take to the kitchen and cook our own break 
fast. A general of the U. S. army, the commander of a man-of-war, and the 
alcalde of Monterey in a smoking kitchen grinding coffee, toasting a herring, 
and peeling onions! Three Years in Cal., 247-8. Reduit a faire lui-meme 
sa cuisine, as one says of this incident in the Revue des Deux Mondes, Feb. 

24 I of course could not escape the infection, says Sherman, Mem., i. 46, 
and at last convinced Colonel Mason that it was our duty to go up and see 
with our own eyes, that we might report the truth to our government. Swan 
relates an anecdote of a party of sailors, including the master-at-urms, belong 
ing to the Warren, who deserted in a boat. They hid themselves in the pine 


then they grew restless, and soon disappeared, as Com 
modore Jones asserts in his report to the secretary of 
the navy the 2 5th of October. 25 Threats and entreat 
ies were alike of little avail. Jones claims to have 
checked desertion in his ranks by offering large re 
wards; but if the publication of such notices produced 
any marked effect, it was not until after there were 
few left to desert. 26 

In the midst of the excitement, however, there were 
men who remained cairn, and here and there were 
those who regarded not the product of the Sierra 
foothills as the greatest good. Luis Peralta, who 
had lived near upon a century, called to him his sons, 
themselves approaching threescore years, and said: 
"My sons, God has given this gold to the Americans. 
Had he desired us to have it, he would have given it 
to us ere now. Therefore go not after it, but let 
others go. Plant your lands, and reap; these be your 

woods till dark, and then came into town for provisions, but got so drunk 
that on starting they lost the road, and went to sleep on the beach opposite 
their own ship. Just before daylight one of them awoke, and hearing the 
ship s bell strike, roused the others barely in time to make good their escape. 
Swan afterward met them in the mines. Trip to the Gold Mines, MS., 3. 
Certain volunteers from Lower California arriving in Monterey formed into 
companies, helped themselves to stores, and then started for the mines. Green s 
Life and Adventures, MS., 11; Californian, Aug. 14, 1848. The offer of $100 
per month for sailors, made by Capt. Allyn of the Isaac Walton, brought 
forward no accepters. Frisbie s Remin., MS., 30-2; Ferry, Col., 325-6; Sher- 
man s Mem., i. 57; Bigler s Diary, MS., 78.. 

25 Xov. 2d he again writes: For the present, and I fear for years to come, it 
will be impossible for the United States to maintain any naval or military es 
tablishment in California; as at the present no hope of reward nor fear of 
punishment is sufficient to make binding any contract between man and man 
upon the suil of California. To send troops out here would be needless, for 
they would immediately desert. . .Among the deserters from the squadron are 
some of the best petty officers and seamen, having but few months to serve, 
and large balances due them, amounting in the aggregate to over $10,000. 
William Rich, Oct. 23d, writes the paymaster-general that nearly all of Com 
pany F, 3d artillery, had deserted. The five men-of-war in port dared not 
land a man through fear of desertion. Two companies alone remained in Cal., 
one of the first dragoons arid the other of the 3d artillery, *the latter reduced 
to a mere skeleton by desertion, and the former in a fair way to share the 
same fate. Hevere s Tour of Duty, 252-6; Sherman s Mem., i. 56-7; Lants, 
KaL, 24-31. 

26 In Nov. the commander gave notice through the Californian that 
$40,000 would be given for the capture of deserters from his squadron, in the fol 
lowing sums: for the first four deserting since July, $500 each, and for any 
others, $200 each, the reward to be paid in silver dollars immediately on the 
delivery of any culprit. 



best gold-fields, for all must eat while they live." 27 
Others looked around and saw with prophetic eye the 
turn in the tide when different resources must spring 
into prominence; not only land grants with farms and 
orchards, and forests with their varied products, but 
metals and minerals of a baser kind, as quicksilver, 
copper, coal. 28 They foresaw the rush from abroad of 
gold-seekers, the gathering of vast fleets, the influx 
of merchandise, with their consequent flow of traffic 
and trade, the rise of cities and the growth of settle 
ments. Those were the days of great opportunities, 
when a hundred properly invested would soon have 
yielded millions. We might have improved an oppor 
tunity like Sutter s better than he did. So we think; 
yet opportunities just as great perhaps present them 
selves to us every day, and will present themselves, 
but we do not see them. 

27 Archives Santa Cruz, MS., 107; HalVs Hist., 190-1; Larkin s Doc., 
MS., vi. 

28 Men began to quarrel afresh over the New Almaden claim, now aban 
doned by its workmen for more fascinating fields; in the spring of this year 
the country round Clear Lake had been searched for copper. 





ONE of the first to realize the importance of Mar 
shall s discovery was Isaac Humphrey, the Georgia 
miner before mentioned, who accompanied Bennett 
on his return to Suiter s Fort, after the failure to 
obtain a grant of the gold region. Humphrey advised 
^ome of his friends to go with him to seek gold, but 
they only laughed at him. He reached Coloma on 
the 7th of March; the 8th saw him out prospecting 
with a pan; the 9th found him at work with a rocker. 
The application of machinery to mining in California 
was begun. A day or two later came to the mill a 
French Canadian, Jean Baptiste Ruelle by name, com 
monly called Baptiste, who had been a miner in Mex 
ico, a trapper, and general backwoodsman. Impressed 
by the geologic features of that region, and yet more 
perhaps by an ardent fancy, he had five years before 
applied to Sutter for an outfit to go and search for 
gold in the mountains. Sutter declined, deeming him 
unreliable, but gave him occupation at the whip-saw 
on Weber Creek, ten miles east of Coloma. After 





examining the diggings at Coloma, he declared there 
must be gold also on the creek, wondered he had never 
found it there; indeed, the failure to do so seems 
stupidity in a person so lately talking about gold-find 
ing. Nevertheless, he with Humphrey was of great 
service to the inexperienced gold-diggers, initiating 
them as well in the mysteries of prospecting, or seek 
ing for gold, as in washing it out, or separating it 
from the earth. 1 

So it was with John Bid well, who came to Coloma 
toward the latter part of March. 2 Seeing the gold 
and the soil, he said there were similar indications in 
the vicinity of his rancho, at Chico. Returning home 
he searched the streams thereabout, and was soon at 
work with his native retainers on Feather River, at 
the rich placer which took the name of Bidwell Bar. 3 
Not long after Bidwell s visit to Coloma, 4 P. B. 
Reading arrived there. He also was satisfied that 
there was gold near his rancho at the northern end 
of the great valley, and finding it, he worked the 

1 Humphrey died at Victoria, B. C., Dec. 1, 1867. Alta CaL, Dec. 4, 1867. 
Hittell, Mining, 15, ascribes to the Frenchman the first use of pan and rocker 
on the coast. 

2 He says that Humphrey, Ruelle, and others were at work with pans in 
some ravines on the north side of the river. BklweWs Col. 1841-8, MS., 232. 
He makes no mention of any rocker, although the machine must have been 
new to him. It may have been there for all that. 

3 On my return to Chico I stopped over night at Hamilton on the west 
bank of Feather River. On trying some of the sand in the river here I found 
light particles of gold, and reckoned that if light gold could be found that far 
down the river, the heavier particles would certainly remain near the hills. 
On reaching Chico an expedition was organized, but it took some time to get 
everything ready. We had to send twice up to Peter Lassen s mill to obtain 
flour; meat had to be dried, and w r e had to send to Sacramento for tools. 
Our party were Mr Dicky, Potter, John Williams, William Northgraves, 
and myself. We passed near Cherokee and up on the north fork. In nearly 
all the places we prospected we found the color. One evening, while camped 
at White Rocks, Dicky and I in a short time panned out about an ounce of 
fine gold. The others refused to prospect any, and said the gold we had 
obtained was so light that it would not weigh anything. At this time we 
were all unfamiliar with the weight of gold-dust, but I am satisfied that 
what we had would have weighed an ounce. At length we came home and 
some of the men went to the American River to mine. Dicky, Northgraves, 
and I went to what is now Bidwell s Bar, and there found gold and went to 
mining. BidweWs CaL 1841-8, MS., 232-3; Sac. Union, Oct. 24, 1864. 

* Sutter, in N. Helv. Diary, says he left the fort April 18th with Reading 
and Edwin Kemble, was absent four days, and beside gold saw silver and iron 
in abundance. 


deposits near Clear Creek with his Indians. Mean 
while the metal was discovered at several inter 
mediate points, 5 especially along the tributaries and 
ravines of the south fork, which first disclosed it. 
Thus at one leap the gold-fields extended their line 
northward two hundred miles. It will also be noticed 
that after the Mormons the foremost to make avail 
of Marshall s discovery w r ere the settlers in the great 
valley, who, gathering round them the Indians of 
their vicinity, with such allurements as food, finery, 
alcohol, went their several ways hunting the yellow 
stuff up and down the creeks and gulches in every 
direction. Sutter and Marshall had been working 
their tamed Indians at Coloma in February. 6 

As the field enlarged, so did the visions of its occu 
pants. Reports of vast yields and richer and richer 
diggings began to fly in all directions, swelling under 
distorted fancy and lending wings to flocking crowds. 
In May the influx assumed considerable proportions, 
and the streams and ravines for thirty miles on either 
side of Coloma were occupied one after another. The 
estimate is, that there were then already 800 miners 
at work, and the number was rapidly increasing. 
Early in June Consul Larkin estimated them at 2,000, 
mostly foreigners, half of whom were on the branches 
of the American. There might have been 100 fami 
lies, with teams and tents. He saw none who had 
worked steadily a month. Few had come prepared 
to stay over a week or a fortnight, and no matter how 
rich the prospects, they were obliged to return home 
and arrange their business. Those who had no home 
or business must go somewhere for food. 

When Mason visited the mines early in July, he 
understood that 4,000 men were then at work, which 
certainly cannot be called exaggerated if Indians are 

5 As on the land of Leidesdorff, on the American River just above Sutter s 
flour-mill, about the middle of April. S. F. Californian, April 19, 1848; Cal* 
ifornia Star, April 22, 1848. 

6 In his Diary, under date of April, Sutter says that some of his neighbors 
had been very successful. 


included. By the turn of the season, in October, the 
number had certainly doubled, although the white 
mining population for the year could not have exceeded 
10,000 men. Arrivals in 1848 have as a rule been 
overestimated. News did not reach the outside world 
in time for people to come from a distance during 
that year. 7 It is impossible to trace the drift of the 
miners, but I will give the movements of the leading 
men, and, so far as they have come under my observa 
tion, the founders of mining camps and towns. 

The success of Bidwell in the north was quickly re 
peated by others. Two miles from his camp on the 
north fork of Feather River, one Potter from the 
Far well grant opened another bar, known by his name. 
Below Bidwell Bar lay Long Bar; opposite, Adams- 
town, first worked by Neal. From Lassen s rancho 
went one Davis and camped below Morris Ravine, 
near Thompson Flat. Subsequently Dye and com 
pany of Monterey with 50 Indians took out 273 pounds 
in seven weeks, from mines on this river. The abo 
rigines began to work largely on their own account, 

Simpson should not say there were 3,000 or 4,000 miners at work three 
months after the discovery of gold, because there were less than 500; four 
months after the discovery there were less than 1,000; nor should the Reverend 
Colton speak of 50,000 in Nov., when less than 10,000 white men were at work 
in the mines. My researches indicate a population in California in the middle 
of 1848 of 7,500 Hispano-Californians, excluding Indians, and 6,500 Ameri 
cans, with a sprinkling of foreigners. Of the Californians, probably 1,300 
went to the mines, out of a possible maximum of 2,000 able to go, allowing 
for their larger families. Of the Americans, with smaller families and of 
more roving disposition, soldiers, etc., 4,000 joined the rush. Add 1,500 
Oregonians and northerners, arriving in 1848, and 2,500 Mexicans, Hawai- 
ians, etc., and we have a total mining population of somewhat over 9,000. 
Cal. Star, Sept. 2, 1848, Dec. 9, 1848, allows 2,000 Oregonians to arrive in 
1848, and 100 wagons with U. S. emigrants. The gov. agent, T. B. King, 
indicates his belief in a population at the end of 1848 of 15,000, or a little 
more. Report, 15; U. S. Gov. Docs., 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 59, 7. 
The committee of the Cal. const, convention, in statement of March 1850, 
assumad a population of 26,000, whereof 8,000 Americans, 5,000 foreigners, 
and 13,000 Californians, but the last two estimates are excessive. See also 
Stillman s Golden Fleece, 32; Mayer s Mex. Aztec, ii. 393; Grimshaw, Narr., 
MS., enumerates only five sea-going vessels at San Francisco early in Nov. 
1848, and these evidently all on trading trips, and as late as Feb. 1849, the 
First Steamship Pioneers, found only a few ships here. It is difficult, there 
fore, to make up 5,000 foreign arrivals before 1849, for the influx from Sonora 
is shown elsewhere to have been moderate so far. 


and Bid well found more advantage in attending to a 
trading post opened by him. 8 

The success on Feather River led to the explora 
tion of its main tributary, the Yuba, by Patrick Mc- 
Christian, J. P. Leese, Jasper O Farrell, William 
Leery, and Samuel Norris, who left Sonoma in July, 
and were the first to dig there for gold, making in 
three months $75,000 9 The diggings on the Yuba 
were subsequently among the most famous in Califor 
nia, and form the scene perhaps of more of the incidents 
and reminiscences characteristic of the mining days 
than any other locality. The leading bars or camps 
were those of Parks, Long, and Foster, where miners, 
although poorly supplied with implements, made from 
$60 to $100 a day; and it is supposed that they 
lost more gold than they saved, on account of the 
clumsiness of their implements. 10 Below, on Bear 
River, J. Tyrwhitt Brooks camped with a party. 11 
Reading extended his field to Trinity River, the most 
northerly point reached in 1848; but he had the mis 
fortune to encounter a company of Oregon ians on 
their way south, and these, imbittered against all 

*BidwelVsCal. 1841-8, MS., 231-3; Seeton, in Oroville Mer., Dec. 31, 1875. 

9 McChristian, in Pioneer Sketches, MS. , 9. Jonas Speot states in his Diary, 
MS., that he found gold on the Yuba, near Long Bar, June 1st. See also 
Yolo Co. Hist., 33; Yuba Co. Hist., 36. 

10 Parks Bar on the Yuba was discovered in August by Stephen Cooper, 
John Marsh, John P. Long and two brothers, Clay, Willis, and Nicholas 
Hunsaker, who afterward held important positions in Contra Costa county. 
Charles Covillaud opened a store there later, and employed a number of In 
dians to dig gold for him. He married, on Christmas, 1848, Mary Murphy, 
one of the survivors of the Donner party. He purchased the rancho where 
Marysville now stands, laid out the town, and named it for his wife. Parks, 
from whom the bar was named, came across the plains in 1848. Although 
fifty miners were at work when he arrived, and had been for some time, the 
bar was christened after him, because he was a man with a family, and more 
persons answered to the name of Parks than to any other. See account by 
Juanita, in Sacramento Rescue, Jan. 26, 1871. Juanita was a young Scotch 
man, John C. McPherson by name, with considerable literary ability. While 
mining at Long Bar he composed a song in praise of the Yuba, which became 
a favorite among the miners, and has been frequently printed. Long tar 
was named after Dr Long. Burnett and a number of his companions from 
Oregon began their gold-seeking at this point. The population was then 80 
men, 3 women, and 5 children. Foster Bar was one of the last opened in 1848. 
The gravelly clay dirt, often twelve feet from the surface, was hard to work. 

11 Brooks Four Month*, 119-28. His party obtained 115 Ibs of gold by 
Sept Later, Buffum tried and failed. 


Indians by the recent bloody wars in which they had 
been engaged with their own aborigines, drove him 
and his party of natives away from what afterward 
proved to be an exceedingly rich locality. 12 

Early in June John Sinclair went from his rancho, 
near New Helvetia, to the junction of the north and 
south branches of the American River, twelve miles 
above his house, and there worked fifty natives with 
good success. During the same month a party of 
Mormons abandoned their claim on the south branch 
of the American River, and crossing to the middle 
tributary, discovered the deposits on what was later 
known as Spanish Bar, twelve miles north-east from 
Coloma. This stream was the richest of any in all 
that rich region, this one spot alone yielding more 
than a million of dollars. 

Into a ravine between the north and middle branches 
of the American River, fifteen miles north-east of 
Coloma, stumbled one day an Irishman, to whom in 
raillery had been given the nickname Yankee Jim, 
which name, applied to the rich deposit he there found, 
soon became famous. A few miles to the north-east 
of Yankee Jim were Illinoistown and Iowa Hill, 
found and named by persons from the states indicated. 
W. R. Longley, once alcalde at Monterey, was 
followed by Dr Todd into the place named Todd 
Valley. Hereabout remained many Mormons, who 
forgot their desert destination, turned publicans, and 
waxed fat. There were Hannon, one wife and two 
daughters, who kept the Mormon House; Wickson 
and wife, the house to which under their successor 
was given the name Franklin; while Blackmail kept 
an inn at one of the fifty Dry Diggings, which, at 
the great renaming, became known as Auburn. 13 

12 Weaverville Trinity Journal, June 20, 1874; Pacific Rural Press, quoted 
in M freed People, June 8, 1872. 

13 Ferry, Col., 105-6; Oakland Transcript, April 13, 1873; Alamrda 
Co. Gazette, April 19, 1873; Hutchings May., vol. ii. 197. On these streams 
some deserters realized within a few days from $5,000 to 20,000 each, and 
then left California by the first conveyance. Carson s Early Recollections, 6; 


North of Coloma Kelsey and party opened the 
diggings which took his name. South of it Weber 
Creek rose into fame under the discoveries of a com 
pany from Weber s grant, now Stockton, including 
some Hispano-Californians. After a trip to the Stan 
islaus, and a more favorable trial on the Mokelumne, 
with deep diggings, they proceeded on their route, 
finding gold everywhere, and paused on the creek, 
at a point about twelve miles from the saw-mill. 
There they made their camp, which later took the 
name of Weberville; and while some remained to 
mine, the rest returned to Weber s rancho for supplies. 
Trade no less than gold-digging being the object, a 
joint-stock association, called the Stockton Mining 
Company, was organized, with Charles M. Weber as 
the leading member. 14 The company, although very 
successful with its large native corps, was dissolved 
in September of the same year by Weber, who wished 
to turn his attention exclusively to building a town 
upon his grant. 15 On the creek were also Sunol and 
company, who employed thirty Indians, and Neligh. 

The Stockton company had scarcely been established 
at Weber Creek when a man belonging to the party of 
William Daylor, a ranchero from the vicinity of New 
Helvetia, struck into the hills one morning, and found 
the mine first called, in common with many other 

Buffum s Six Months, 77. Sinclair was one of the first to find gold on the 
north branch. McChristian, in Pioneer Sketches, 9. 

14 The other members were John M. Murphy, Joseph Bussel, Andy Baker, 
Pyle, I. S. Isbel, and George Frazer. Not having at hand all the requisites 
for the outfit, while the company proceeded to \V eber Creek, Weber went to 
San Francisco and San Jos6, and there bought beads, calico, clothing, gro 
ceries, and tools, which were sent by boat to Sutter s embarcadero, and thence 
transported by wagons to Weber Creek, where a store was opened. Among3t 
the other articles purchased was a quantity of silver coin, attractive to the 
natives as ornaments. From the rancho were sent beef, cattle, and whatever 
else was available for use or sale. Weber, in Tinkharrfs Hist. Stockton, 72. 
According to San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21, there were other prominent members, 
but they were more likely to have been only of the party, and may have 
joined at another time and place. 

15 Buffum, Six Months in the Gold Mines, 92, says that William Daylor, a 
ranchero near Sutter s Fort, was with Weber at Weber Creek, and that the 
two employed 1 ,000 Indians and took out $50,000. See, further, Carson s Early 
Rec,, 5; S. F. Bulletin, Aug. 13, 1859; Alta CaL, July 31, 1856; Brooks Four 
Months, 93. 


spots, Dry Diggings, afterward Hangtown, and later 
Placerville. 16 It proved exceedingly rich, yielding 
from three ounces to five pounds of gold daily to the 
man; and from the middle of June, through July and 
August, the 300 Hangtown men were the happiest 
in the universe. 

Thus far extended the northern district, which em 
braced the tributaries of the Sacramento and the north 
side of the Bay, 17 and centred in Colorna as the point 
of primary attraction, and whence fresh discoveries 
radiated. The region below, tributary to the San 
Joaquin, was largely opened by Indians. 18 

On the Stanislaus, where afterward was Knight s 
Ferry, lived an Indian known to white men as Jose 
Jesus. He had been instructed in the mysteries of 
religion and civilization by the missionaries, and was 
once alcalde at San Jose. Through some real or 
fancied wrong he became offended, left San Jose, and 
was ever after hostile to the Mexicans, though friendly 
to others. Tall, well-proportioned, and possessed of 
remarkable ability, with the dress and dignified mari 
ner of a Mexican of the better class, he commanded 

*Buffum s Six Months, 92-3; Ferry, CaL, 105-6. The gulches and ra 
vines were opened about two feet wide and one foot in depth along their cen 
tres, and the gold picked out from amongst the dirt with a knife. Carson s 
Early Rec., 5. 

17 The Calif or nian states that about this time there were many gold-seekers 
digging in the vicinity of Sonoma and Santa Rosa. 

18 A map, entitled Positions of the Upper and Lower Gold Mines on the 
South Fork of the American River, California, July 20, 1848, is probably the 
earliest map made expressly to show any part of the gold region, unless it was 
preceded by another on a larger scale of the same diggings, which bears no 
date. There is, however, another map, which is dated only five days later 
than the first mentioned, and is entitled, Topographical Sketch of the Gold 
and Quicksilver District of California, July 25, 1848, E. 0. C. D., Lt U. S. A. 
This is not confined to one locality, but embraces the country west of the 
Sierra Nevada from lat. 37 to 40, and has marked on it all the places where 
gold had been found at that date. A Map of the Southern Mines, by C. D. 
Gibbes, 1852, accompanies Carson s Early Recollections. The many books and 
pamphlets published about California in Europe and the eastern states in 1 848-9 
generally contained inferior maps, and in some cases an attempt was made to 
show the gold regions. Such may be found, for instance, in Foster s Gold 
Regions; Wilkes Western America; Brooks Four Months among the Gold- 

Jinders; Hartmami s Geog. Stat.; Beschreibung von CaL; Hoppers Cal. Geaen* 
wart; Oswald, Californien; Cohorts Three Years; and many other similar 
works. The earliest purely geological map appears in Tyson s Report, pub 
lished by the war department in 1849. 


universal respect, and on the death of Estanislao, that 
is to say, Stanislaus, chief of the Wallas, Jose Jesus 
was chosen his successor. Courting the friendship of 
this savage, Weber had through the intervention of 
Sutter made him his firm ally. On organizing the 
Stockton company, W^eber requested of Jose Jesus 
some able-bodied members of his tribe, such as would 
make good gold-diggers. The chief sent him twenty- 
five, who were despatched to Weber Creek and given 
lessons in mining; after which they were directed to 
return to the Stanislaus, there to dig for gold, and to 
carry the proceeds of their labor to French Camp, 
where the mayordomo would pay them in such articles 
as they best loved. 19 

This shrewd plan worked well. The gold brought 
in by the natives proved coarser than any yet found. 
Weber and the rest were delighted, and the Stockton 
company determined at once to abandon Weber Creek 
and remove to the Stanislaus, which was done in Au 
gust. The news spreading, others went with them; 
a large emigration set in, including some subsequently 
notable persons who gave their names to different 

5 laces, as Wood Creek, Angel Camp, Sullivan Bar, 
amestown, Don Pedro (Sansevain) Bar. Murphy 
Camp was named from John M. Murphy, one of the 
partners. 20 William Knight established the trading 
post at the point now known as Knight s Ferry. 

19 They met with rare success, if the writer in San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21, 
is to be believed. They found, he says, in July a lump of pure gold, weigh 
ing 80 ounces avoirdupois, the general form of the nugget being that of 
a kidney. Its rare beauty, purity, and size prompted the firm of Cross & 
Hobson of San Francisco to paj for it $3, 000... to send to the Bank of 
England, as a specimen from the newly discovered gold-fields of California. 
Gold-dust-was selling at that time for $12 per ounce, and the specimen, had it 
sold only for its value as metal, would have yielded the Stockton Mining 
Company only $966. 

*"San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21. Carson says, Early Rec., 6: In August the 
old diggings were pronounced as being dug out, and many prospecting parties 
had gone out. Part of Weber s trading establishments had secretly disap 
peared, and rumors were afloat that the place where all the gold came from 
had been discovered south, and a general rush of the miners commenced that 
day. Tinkham asserts that Weber proclaimed the discovery on the Stanis 
laus, and was willing every one should go there who wished. The greater 
the number of people the more goods would be required. 


Such was the richness of the field that, at Wood 
Creek, Wood, Savage, and Heffernan were said to 
have taken out for some time, with pick and knife 
alone, $200 or $300 a day each. 

The intermediate region, along the Mokelumne and 
Cosumnes, had already become known through parties 
en route from the south, such as Weber s partners. 
J. H. Carson was directed by, an Indian to Carson 
Creek, where he and his companions in ten days 
gathered 180 ounces each. Angel camped at An 
gel Creek. Sutter, who had for a time been mining 
ten miles above Mormon Island with 100 Indians and 
50 kanakas, came in July to Sutter Creek. Two 
months later, when further gold placers on the Co 
sumnes were discovered, Jose de Jesus Pico with ten 
men left San Luis Obispo and proceeded through 
Livermore pass to the Arroyo Seco of that locality 
and began to mine. In four months he obtained suf 
ficient to pay his men and have a surplus of $14,000. 21 

Mokelumne or Big Bar was now fast rising in 
importance. A party from Oregon discovered it early 
in October and were highly successful. Their num 
ber induced one Syrec to drive in a wagon laden with 
provisions, a venture which proved so fortunate that 
he opened a store in the beginning of November, on 
a hill one mile from where the first mine was discov 
ered. This became a trade centre under the name of 
Mokelumne Hill. 

The richest district in this region, however, was 
beginning to appear on the head waters of the Tuol- 
umne, round the later town of Sonora, which took its 
name from the party of Mexicans from Sonora who 
discovered it. 22 The Tuolumne may be regarded as 
the limit of exploration southward in 1848. It was 

21 Pico, Acontecimientox, MS., 77. 

22 Amongst the first who helped to settle Sonora in 1848-9 were Joshua 
Holden, Emanuel Lindberg, Casimir Labetour, Alonzo Green, Hiram W. 
Theall, R. S. Ham, Charles F. Dodge, Theophilus Dodge, Terence Clark, 
James Lane, William Shepperd, Alfred W. Luckett, Benjamin F. Moore, 
William Norlinn, Francisco Pavia, Jos< M. Bosa, Elordi, Remigio Riveras, 
and James Frasier. Hayes 1 CaL Mining, i. 33. 


reached in August, so that before the summer months 
closed all the long Sierra base-line, as I have described, 
had been overrun by the gold-seekers, the subsequent 
months of the year being devoted to closer develop 
ments. 23 One reason for the limitation was the hos 
tility of the natives, who had in particular taken an 
aversion to the Mexican people, or Hispano-Califor- 
nians, their old taskmasters, and till lately prominent 
in pursuing them for enslavement. 

These Californians very naturally halted along the 
San Joaquin tributaries, which lay on the route taken 
from the southern settlements, and were reported even 
richer than the northern mines. Among them was 
Antonio Franco Coronel, with a party of thirty, who 
had left Los Angeles in August by way of San Jose 
and Livermore pass. 24 Priests as well as publicans, 
it appears, were possessed by the demon in those days; 
for at the Sari Joaquin Coronel met Padre Jose 
Maria Suarez del Real who showed him a bag of gold 
which he claimed to have brought from the Stanislaus 
camp, that is to say, Sonora, recently discovered. 
This decided Coronel and party to go to the Stanis 
laus, where they found a company of New Mexicans, 
lately arrived, a few Americans, as well as native 
Californians from San Jose and proximate places. To 
the camp where Coronel halted came seven savages, 

25 Carson s Early Recollections, 6-7; Stockton Independent, Sept. 14, 1872; 
Fiitdla s Statement, MS., 7; San Andreas Independent, Jan. 1861; Jansen, 
Vida y Aventuras, 198-200; Pico, Acontecimientos, 77. According to a state 
ment published in the Altaol Oct. 15, 1851, in the summer of 1848 one Bomon, 
a Spanish doctor, while travelling with a large party of Spaniards, Italians, and 
Frenchmen in the southern part of the state, came upon a river so rich in gold 
that with their knives they took out five or six ounces a day to the man. 
They got into trouble with the natives, however, who killed 48 of the party, 
and forced the rest to flee for their lives. Bomon set out from Mariposa dig 
gings with some companions in 1851 in search of this placer, and at the same 
time a French company left the same place with a similar object; but both 
expeditions failed. The narrator thinks that this might have been Kern 
River, but the whole story is probably fiction. 

24 The account I take from the valuable manuscript, written at the dicta 
tion of Coronel by Mr Savage in 1877, Cosas de California, For ft Senor Don 
Antonio Franco Coronel, vecino de la Ciudad de Los Anyeles. Obra en que el 
antor trata particnlarmtnte de lo que acontecio en la parte del sur durante los 
anosde 1846 y 1847. 


wishing to buy from him and his party, and offering 
large quantities of gold for such articles as took their 
fancy. One of Coronel s servants, Benito Perez, was 
an expert in placer-mining. Struck with the display 
made by the natives, he proposed to his master to let 
him have one of his dumb Indians as a companion, so 
that he might follow, and see whenc e the savages ob 
tained their gold. It was dark before the Indians 
had finished their purchases and set out for home, but 
Benito Perez, with Indian Agustin, kept stealthily 
upon their tracks, to the rancheria where Captain 
Estanislao had formerly lived. 

Perez passed the night upon a hill opposite the ran 
cheria hidden among the trees, and waiting for the 
Indians. Early the following morning the same seven 
started for the gold-fields, taking their way toward the 
east, followed by the Mexican and his companion. 
At a place afterward called Canada del Barro the 
seven began to dig with sharp-pointed stakes, where 
upon Perez presented himself. The Indians were evi 
dently annoyed; but Perez set to work with his knife, 
and in a short time obtained three ounces in chispas, 
or nuggets. Satisfied with his discovery, he went 
back to Coronel. The two determined to take secret 
possession; but eventually Coronel thought it would 
be but right to inform his companions, especially as 
Perez report indicated the mine to be rich. Secrecy 
was moreover of little use; their movements were 
watched. In order not to delay matters, Perez was 
despatched with two dumb Indians to secure the 
richest plats. This done, Coronel and the rest of his 
friends started, though late in the night. Such was 
their eagerness, that on reaching the ground they spent 
the night in alloting claims in order to begin work at 

Everybody was well satisfied with the first day s 
working. Coronel, with his two dumb Indians, ob 
tained forty-five ounces of coarse gold. Dolores Se- 
pulveda, who was busy a few yards away, picked up a 


nugget fully twelve ounces in weight; and though 
there were more than a hundred persons round about, 
all had great success. On the same bar where Sepul- 
veda found the nugget worked Valdes, alias Cha- 
pamango, a Californian of Santa Barbara, who, by 
digging to the depth of three feet, discovered a 
pocket which had been formed by a large rock break 
ing the force of the current and detaining quantities 
of gold. He picked up enough to fill a large towel, 
and then passed round to make known his good for 
tune. Thinking that he had money enough, he sold 
his claim to Lorenzo Soto, who took out in eight days 
52 pounds of gold. Water was then struck, when the 
claim was sold to Machado of San Diego, who also, 
in a short time, secured a large quantity of gold. 

Coronel, leaving his servants at his claim, started 
to inspect the third bar of the Barro Canada, with an 
experienced gambusino of the Sonorans known as 
Chino Tirador. Choosing a favorable spot, the gam 
busino marked out his claim, and Coronel took up his 
a little lower. The Chino set to work, and at the 
depth of four feet found a pocket of gold near an un 
derground rock which divided the two claims. From 
nine o clock in the morning till four in the afternoon 
he lay gathering the gold with a horn spoon, throw 
ing it into a wooden tray for the purpose of dry-wash 
ing. By this time the tray had become so filled with 
cleaned gold that the man could hardly carry it. 
Tired with his work he returned to camp, giving Co 
ronel permission to work his claim. The latter was 
only too glad to do so, for with a great deal more labor, 
and with the assistance of his servant, he had not 
succeeded in obtaining six ounces. During the brief 
daylight remaining Coronel made ample amends for 
previous shortcomings. The Chino s luck caused 
great excitement in the camp, where he offered to 
sell clean gold for silver; and had disposed of a con 
siderable quantity when Coronel arrived and bought 
seventy-six ounces at the rate of two dollars and a 


half the ounce. The next day the Chino returned to 
his claim; but as large numbers had been working it 
by night, with the aid of candles, he decided on aban 
doning the mine and starting upon a new venture. 
Purchasing a bottle of whiskey for a double-handful 
of gold, and spreading a blanket on the ground, he 
opened a monte bank. By ten o clock that night he 
was both penniless and drunk. 25 Such is one of the 
many phases of mining as told by the men of 1848. 

25 Coronet, Cosas de CaL, MS., 146-51. 
HIST. CAL,., VOL. VI. 6 





SOCIETY in California from the beginning presents 
itself in a multitude of phases. First there is the 
aboriginal, wild and tame, half naked, eating his grass 
hopper cake, and sleeping in his hut of bushes, or 
piously sunning himself into civilization upon an adobe 
mission fence, between the brief hours of work and 
prayer; next the Mexicanized European, priest and 
publican, missionary and military man, bland yet co 
ercive, with the work-hating ranch ero and settler; 
and then the restless rovers of all nations, particularly 
the enterprising and impudent Yankee. With the 
introduction of every new element, and under the de 
velopments of every new condition, the face of society 
changes, and the heart of humanity pulsates with 
fresh purposes and aspirations. 

The year of 1848 has its individuality. It is dif 
ferent from every other California year before or 
since. The men of 48 were of another class from 
the men of 49. We have examined the ingredients 
composing the community of 1848 ; the people of 1849 
will in due time pass under analysis. Suffice it to say 



here, that the vile and criminal element from the con 
tinental cities of civilization and the isles of ocean, 
which later cursed the country, had not yet arrived. 
Those first at the mines were the settlers of the Cali 
fornia Valley, just and ingenuous, many of them with 
their families and Indian retainers; they were neigh 
bors and friends, who would not wrong each other in 
the mountains more than in the valley. The immi 
grants from the Mississippi border were accustomed 
to honest toil; and the men from San Francisco Bay 
and the southern seaboard were generally acquainted, 
and had no thought of robbing or killing each other. 

After the quiet inflowing from the valley adjacent 
to the gold-fields came the exodus from San Francisco, 
which began in May; in June San Jose, Monterey, 
and the middle region contributed their quota, followed 
in July and August by the southern settlements. 
The predominance thus obtained from the start by 
the Anglo-American element was well sustained, 
partly from the fact that it was more attracted by 
the glitter of gold than the lavish and indolent ran- 
chero of Latin extraction, and less restrained from 
yielding to it by ties of family and possessions. The 
subsequent influx during the season from abroad pre 
ponderated in the same direction. It began in Sep 
tember, although assuming no large proportions until 
two months later. The first flow came from the 
Hawaiian Islands, followed by a larger stream from 
Oregon, and a broad current from Mexico and beyond, 
notably of Sonorans. who counted many experienced 
miners in their ranks. Early in the season came also 
an accidental representation from the Flowery king 
dom. 1 

It is not to be denied that this mixture of national 
ities, with a tinge of inherited antipathy, and variety 

1 Charles V. Gillespie, who reached S. F. from Hong-Kong in the brig Eagle, 
Feb. 2, 1848, brought three Chinese, two men and a woman. The men sub 
sequently went to the mines. These, he says, were the first Chinamen in Cal., 
with the exception of a very few who had come over as cooks or stewards of 
vessels. Gille^p^s Viy. Com., MS., 1. 


of character, embracing some few aimless adventurers 
and deserters as well as respectable settlers, could not 
fail to bring to the surface some undesirable features. 
Yet the crimes that mar this period are strikingly few 
in comparison with the record of the following years, 
when California was overrun by the dregs of the 
world s society. Indeed, during this first year theft 
was extremely rare, although temptations abounded, 
and property lay almost unguarded. 2 Murder and 
violence were almost unknown, and even disputes 
seldom arose. Circumstances naturally required the 
miners to take justice into their own hands; }^et with 
all the severity and haste characterizing such admin 
istration, I find only two instances of action by a 
popular tribunal in the mining region. In one case a 
Frenchman, a notorious horse-thief, was caught in the 
act of practising his profession at the Dry Diggings; 
in the other, a Spaniard was found with a stolen bag 
of gold-dust in his possession, on the middle branch 
of the American River. 3 Both of these men were 
tried, convicted, and promptly hanged by the miners. 
It has been the fashion to ascribe most infringe 
ments of order to the Latin race, mainly because the 
recorders nearly all belonged to the other side, and 
because Anglo-Saxon culprits met with greater leni 
ency, while the least infraction by the obnoxious 
Spanish-speaking southerner was met by exemplary 

2 Degroot, Six Months in 49, in Overland Monthly, xiv. 321. Honest 
miners left their sacks of gold-dust exposed in their tents, without fear of loss. 
Towards the close of the year a few robberies and murders were committed. 
Burnett s Recollections, MS., ii. 142-3. Gov. Mason writing to L. W. Has 
tings from New Helvetia Oct. 24, 1848, says: Although some murders have 
been committed and horses stolen in the placer, I do riot lind that things are 
worse here, if indeed they are so bad, as they were in our own mineral re 
gions some years ago, when I was stationed near them. U, 8. Gov. Docs, 
31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 17. On the other hand, I find complaints of 
outrages committed by disbanded volunteers at Monterey. Cat. Star and 
Calif ornian, Dec. 9, 1848; of robbery and horse-thieving around the bay 
missions, by a gang from the Tulare Valley, said to be composed chiefly of 
deserters. Dr Marsh s residence on the Pulpunes rancho being plundered. 
Cnl. Star, Feb. 26, June 3, 1848. 

3 Hancock s Thirteen Years Residence on the Northwest Coast, MS.. 1 19-20; 
Carson s Early Recoil., 26. Early instances of popular punishment of crime 
at San Jos6 and elsewhere are mentioned in Popular Tribunals, i. 67-9, etc., 
tiiis series. 


punishment at the hands of the overbearing and domi 
nant northerner. Even during these early days, some 
of the latter rendered themselves conspicuous by 
encroachments on the rights of the former, such as 
unwarrantable seizure of desirable claims.* While the 
strict and prompt treatment of crime tended to main 
tain order in the mining regions, the outskirts, or 
rather the southern routes to the placers, became to 
ward the end of the season haunted by a few robbers. 5 
Another source of danger remained in the hostil 
ity of the savages, who, already imbittered by the 
encroachments and spoliation suffered in the coast 
valleys, and from serf-hunting expeditions, naturally 
objected to an influx that threatened to drive them 
out of this their last retreat in the country. This 
attitude, indeed, served to check the expansion of the 
mining field for a time. In the south it was mainly 
due to Mexican aggression, and in the north to incon 
siderate action on the part of immigrants and Orego- 
nian parties, whose prejudices had been roused by 
conflicts on the plains and in the Columbia region. 6 

Mining operations so far embraced surface picking, 
shallow digging along the rivers and the tributary 
ravines, attended by washing of metal-bearing soil, 
and dry diggings, involving either laborious convey 
ance, or packing, of pay-dirt to the distant water, or 
the bringing of water, or the use of a special cleaning 
process. This feature rendered the dry diggings more 
precarious than river claims, with their extensive veins 

* A. Janssens declares, in Viday Avent., MS., that he and several friends 
were threatened in life and property; yet in their case all was amicably 
arranged, after many contests. 

5 Men whose lack of success in the gold-fields prompted to an indulgence 
of hitherto restrained propensities. There are always travellers, however, who 
love to tell thrilling tales. Janssens relates that, on turning homeward in 
Dec., his small party was recommended to avoid the main road to and from 
Stockton, ami speaks of the two headless bodies they found in a hut of 

6 As related in the Merced People, June 8, 1872, on the authority of Read 
ing. Brooks, Four Months, states that his party was attacked on Bear River, 
had one killed and two wounded, and was subsequently robbed of 70 pounds 
of gold by bandits. 


of fine and coarse gold, yielding a comparatively steady 
return, with hopes centred rather in rich finds and 

The principal dry diggings were situated in the 
country since comprised in Placer and El Dorado 
counties, particularly about the spots where Auburn 
and Placerville, their respective capitals, subsequently 
rose. Smaller camps, generally named after their 
discoverers, were thickly scattered throughout the 
gold region. They were among the first discovered 
after the rush set in from the towns, and were worked 
by a great number of miners during June, July, and 
part of August. After this they were deserted, 
partly because the small streams resorted to for wash 
ing dried up, but more because a stampede for the 
southern mines began at that time. 7 A few prudent 
and patient diggers remained, to collect pay-dirt in 
readiness for the next season; and according to all 
accounts they did wisely. 

It was a wide-spread belief among the miners, few 
of whom had any knowledge of geology or mineral 
ogy, that the gold in the streams and gulches had 
been washed down from some place where it lay in 
solid beds, perhaps in mountains. Upon this source 
their dreams and hopes centred, regardless of the 
prospect that such a discovery might cause the 
mineral to lose its value. They were sure that the 
wonderful region would be found some day, and 
the only fear of each was that another might be 
the lucky discoverer. Many a prospecting party set 
out to search for this El Dorado of El Dorados; and 
to their restless wanderings may be greatly attributed 
the extraordinarily rapid extension of the gold-fields. 
No matter how rich a new placer, these henceforth 

1 Kelsey and party discovered the first dry diggings, which were named 
Kelsey s diggings. Next were the old dry diggings, out of which so many 
thousands were taken. Among the discoverers were Isbel, and Daniel and 
J-no. Murphy, who were connected with Capt. Weber s trading establish 
ments, Murray and Failon of San Jose, and McKensey and Aram of Monterey. 
Carson s Early Recollections, 5. See also, concerning the dry diggings, Oakland 
Transcript, Apr. 13, 1873, and Oakland Alameda Co. Gazette, Apr. 19, 1873. 


fated rovers remained there not a moment after the 
news came of richer diggings elsewhere. In their 
wake rushed others; and thus it often happened that 
men abandoned claims yielding from $50 to $200 a 
day, and hurried off to fresh fields which proved far 
less valuable or utterly worthless. Then they would 
return to their old claims, but only to find them fallen 
into other hands, thus being compelled by inexorable 
necessity to continue the chase. They had come to 
gather gold now, and bushels of it, not next year or 
by the thimbleful. At $200 a day it would take 
ten days to secure $2,000, a hundred days to get 
$20,000, a thousand days to make $200,000, when a 
million was wanted within a month. And so in the 
midst of this wild pursuit of their ignis fatuus, multi 
tudes of brave and foolish men fell .by the way, some 
dropping into imbecility or the grave, while others, 
less fortunate, were not permitted to rest till old age 
and decrepitude came upon them. 

Although in 1848 the average yield of gold for 
each man engaged was far greater than in any sub 
sequent year, yet the implements and methods of 
mining then in use were primitive, slow of operation, 
and wasteful. The tools were the knife, the pan, 
and the rocker, or cradle. The knife was only used 
in * crevicing/ that is, in picking the gold out of cracks 
in the rocks, or occasionally in dry diggings rich in 
coarse gold. 8 Yet the returns were large because 

8 The pan was made of stiff tin or sheet-iron, with a flat bottom from 10 
to 14 inches across, and sides from 4 to 6 inches high, rising outward at a 
varying angle. It was used mainly for prospecting, and as an adjunct to the 
rocker, but in the absence of the latter, claims were sometimes systematically 
worked with it. In panning, as in all methods of placer-mining, the gold 
was separated from earth and stones chiefly by relying on the superior spe 
cific gravity of the metal. The pan was partly filled with dirt, lowered into 
the water, and there shaken with a sideway and rotary motion, which caused 
the dissolving soil and clay, and the light sand, to float away until nothing was 
left but the gold which had settled at the bottom. Gravel and stones were 
raked out with the hand. Except in extremely rich ground, such a process 
was slow, and it was therefore seldom resorted to, save for *he purpose of as 
certaining whether it would pay to bring the rocker t^ ..a spot. The cradle 
resembled in size and shape a child s cradle, with similar rockers, and was 
rocked by means of a perpendicular handle. The cradle- box consisted of a 
wooden trough, about 20 in. wide and 40 long, with sides 4 in. high. The 


there were fewer to share the spoils, and because they 
had the choice of the most easily worked placers; and 
although they did not materially diminish the quantity 
of gold, they picked up much of what was in sight. 

lower end was left open. On the upper end sat the hopper, or riddle, a box 20 
in. square, with wooden sides 4 in. high, and a bottom of sheet iron or zinc 
pierced with holes in. in diameter. Under the hopper was an apron of 
wood or canvas which sloped down from the lower end of the hopper to the 
upper end of the cradle-box. Later an additional apron was added by many, 
above the original one, sloping from the upper to the lower end. A strip of 
wood an inch square, called a riffle-bar, was nailed across the bottom of the 
cradle-box, about its middle, and another at its lower end. Under the whole 
were nailed the rockers, and near the middle of the side rose an upright 
handle for imparting motion. The rocker was placed in the spot to which 
the pay-dirt, and especially a constant supply of water, could most conven 
iently be brought. The hopper being nearly tilled with auriferous earth, the 
operator, seated by its side, rocked the cradle with one hand, and with the 
other poured water on the dirt, using a half-gallon dipper, until nothing was 
left in the hopper but clean stones too large to pass through the sieve. 
These being thrown out, the operation was repeated. The dissolved dirt fell 
through the holes upon the apron, and was carried to the upper end of the 
cradle-box, whence it ran down toward the open end. Much of the finer 
gold remained upon the canvas-covered apron; the rest, with the heavier 
particles of gravel, was caught behind the riffle-bars, while the water, thin 
mud, and lighter substances were carried out of the machine. This descrip 
tion of the rocker I have taken from HittelVs Mining in the Pacific States of 
North America, S. F., 1861, and from the Miners Own Book, S. F., 1858. 
The former is a well arranged hand-book of mining, and exhausts the subject. 
The latter work treats only of the various methods of mining, which are 
lucidly described, and illustrated by many excellent cuts, including one of 
the rocker. Earlier miners and Indians used sieves of intertwisted willows 
for washing dirt. Sonorans occasionally availed themselves of cloth for a 
sieve, the water dissolving the dirt and leaving the gold sticking to it. Sev 
eral times during the day the miner cleaned up by taking the retained dirt 
into his pan and panning it out. The quantity of dirt that could be washed 
with a rocker depended upon the nature of the diggings and the number of 
men employed. If the diggings were shallow, that is to say, if the gold lay 
near the surface, two men one to rock and one to fill the hopper could 
wash out from 250 to 300 pans in a day, the pan representing about half 
a cubic foot of dirt. But if several feet of barren dirt had to be stripped off 
before the pay-dirt was reached, more time and men were required. Again, 
if tough clay was encountered in the pay-dirt, it took an hour or more to 
dissolve a hopperful of it. Dry-washing consisted in tossing the dirt into 
the air while the wind was blowing, and thus gradually winnowing out the 
gold. This method was mostly confined to the Mexicans, and could be used 
to advantage only in rich diggings devoid of water, where the gold was 
coarse. The Mexican generally obtained his pay-dirt by coyoting; that 
is, by sinking a square hole to the bed-rock, and then burrowing from the 
bottom along the ledge. For burrowing he used a small crowbar, pointed at 
both ends, and with a big horn spoon he scraped up the loosened pay-dirt. 
This, pounded into dust, he shook with great dexterity from a baiea, or 
wooden bowl, upon an extended hide, repeating the process until the wind 
had left little of the original mass except the gold. In this manner the 
otherwise indolent Mexicans often made small fortunes during the dry 
summer months, when the rest of the miners were squandering their gains iu 
the towns. 


Moreover, they were fettered by no local regulations, 
or delays in obtaining possession of claims, but could 
hasten from placer to placer, skimming the cream from 
each. In February Governor Mason had abolished 
the old Mexican system of denouncing mines, 9 with 
out establishing any other mining regulations. 10 In 
this way some ten millions n were gathered by a pop 
ulation of 8,000 or 10,000, averaging an ounce a day, 
or $1,000 and more to the man for the season, and 
this notwithstanding the miners were not fairly at 
work until July, and most of them went down to the 
coast in October. Some, however, made $100 a day 
for weeks at a time, while $500 or $700* a day was not 
unusual. 12 

Mason s order to this effect is dated at Monterey, Feb. 12, 1848. From 
and after this date the Mexican laws and customs now prevailing in Califor 
nia relative to the denouncement of mines are hereby abolished. The legality 
of the denouncements which have taken place, and the possession obtained 
under them since the occupation of the country by the United States forces, 
are questions which will be disposed of by the American government after a 
definitive treaty of peace shall have been established between the two repub 
lics. U. S. Oov. Docs, 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 17, 477; San Diego 
Arch., MS., 325; San Jost Arch,, MS., ii. 69; Arch. CaL, Unbound Docs, MS., 
318; 8. F. Californian, Feb. 23, 1848. This order caused dissatisfaction in 
several quarters, chiefly because many, after expense and trouble in looking 
for veins, had denounced them after Feb. 12th, but before the decree was 
known to them. Mason to J. S. Moerenhout, consul of France at Monterey, 
June 5, 1848, in U. S. Gov. Docs, as above, 56; Mason to alcalde of San Jose", 
March 9, 1848, in S. Jose Arch., MS., 42; People of Monterey to Mason, March 
9, 1848, in Arch. CaL, Unbound Docs, MS., 408-11. 

10 The desirability of regulations is spoken of by Mason in a letter to J. R. 
Snyder as early as May 23, 1848, as the latter is about to visit the gold region; 
and he is requested to obtain information and submit a plan. U. S. Oov. Docs, 
ubi sup. 554-6. In his letter to the U. S. adjt-gen. of Aug. 17, 1848, Mason 
writes: It was a matter of serious reflection to me how I could secure to the 
government certain rents or fees for the privilege of obtaining this gold; but 
upon considering the large extent of country, the character of the people en 
gaged, and the small scattered force at my command, I resolved not to inter 
fere, but to permit all to work freely, unless broils and crimes should call for 

11 This is the figure accepted in HittelVs Mining, 39, although the same 
author, in Hist. S. F., 155, writes: The monthly gold yield of 1848 averaged 
perhaps $300,000. The officially recorded export for 1848 was $2,000,- 
000, but this forms only a proportion of the real export. Velasco, Son., 289- 
90, for instance, gives the official import into Sonora alone at over half a 
million, and assumes much more unrecorded. See also Annals S. F., 208. 
Quart. Review, Ixxxvii. 422, wildly calculates the yield for 1848 at $45,000,000. 

12 John Sullivan, an Irish teamster, took out $26,000 from the diggings 
named after him on the Stanislaus. One Hudson obtained some $20,000 in 
six weeks from a canon between Colomaand the American middle fork; while 
n boy named Davenport found in the same place 77 ounces of pure gol 1 one 
day, and CO ounces the next. At the Dry Diggings one Wilson took $2, COO 


In a country where trade had been chiefly conducted 
by barter with hides and other produce, coin was nat- 

from under his own door-step. Three Frenchmen discovered gold in remov 
ing a stump which obstructed the road from Dry Diggings to Coloma, and 
within a week secured $5,000. On the Yuba middle fork one man picked up 
in 20 days nearly 30 pounds, from a piece of ground less than four feet square. 
Amador relates that he saw diggings which yielded $8 to every spadeful of 
earth; and he himself, with a companion and 20 native laborers, took out 
from 7 to 9 pounds of gold a day. Robert Birnie, an employe of Consul 
Forbes, saw miners at Dry Diggings making from 50 to 100 ounces daily. 
Bu/um s Six Months, 126-9; Cal. Star, Nov. 18, Dec. 2, 1848; Amador, Me- 
morias, MS., 177-80; Birnie s Biog., in Pioneer Soc. Arch., MS., 93-4. A 
correspondent of the Californian writes from the Dry Diggings in the middle 
of August that at the lower mines the success of the day is counted in dollars, 
at the upper mines, near the mill, in ounces, and here in pounds! The earth, 
he continues, is taken out of the ravines which make out of the mountain, 
and is carried in wagons and packed on horses from one to three miles to the 
water, where it is washed; $400 has been an average for a cart-load. In one 
instance five loads of earth which had been dug out sold for 47 oz. ($752), and 
yielded after washing $16,000. Instances have occurred here where men 
have carried the earth on their backs, and collected from $800 to $1,500 in a 
day. The fountain-head yet remains undiscovered, continues the writer, 
who is of opinion that when proper machinery is introduced and the hills are 
cut down, huge pieces must be found. At this time tidings had just arrived 
of new placers on the Stanislaus, and 200 miners were accordingly preparing 
to leave ground worth $400 a load, in the hope of finding something better in 
the south. This letter is dated from the Dry Diggings, Aug. 15, 1848, and 
is signed J. B. Similar stories are told by other correspondents; for instance, 
Cosmopolite, in the Californian of July 15th, and Sonoma, in that of Aug. 
14th. Coronel states that on the Stanislaus in three days he took out 45, 38, 
and 59 ounces. At the same placer Valde s of Santa Barbara found under a 
rock more gold-dust than he could carry in a towel, and the man to whom 
he sold this claim took out within 8 days 52 pounds of gold. Close by a So- 
noran filled a large batea with dust from the hollow of a rock, and went about 
offering it for silver coin. Cosas de Cal., MS., 146-51. 

And yet the middle fork of the American surpassed the other streams in 
richness, the yield of Spanish Bar alone being placed at over a million dollars. 
These tributaries also boasted of nuggets as big as any so far discovered. 
Larkin writes: I have had in my hands several pieces of gold about 23 carats 
fine, weighing from one to two pounds, and have it from good authority that 
pieces have been found weighing 16 pounds. Indeed, I have heard of one 
specimen that weighed 25 pounds. Colton heard of a twenty-pound piece, 
and a writer in San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21, relates that the Stockton company 
obtained from the Stanislaus a lump of pure gold weighing 80 ounces avoir 
dupois, of kidney shape, which was brought as a specimen. Mason reports 
that a party of four men employed at the lower mines averaged $100 a day. 
On Weber Creek he found two ounces to be a fair day s yield. A small gut 
ter, not more than 100 yards long by four feet wide and two or three feet 
deep, was pointed out to me as the one where two men, William Daly and 
Perry McCoou, had a short time before obtained $17,000 worth of gold. Cap 
tain Weber informed me that he knew that these two men had employed four 
white men and about 100 Indian,?, and that at the end of one* week s work 
they paid off their party and had $10,000 worth of this gold. Another small 
ravine was shown me, from which had been taken upwards of $12,000 worth 
of gold. Hundreds of similar ravines, to all appearances, are as yet un 
touched. I could not have credited these reports had I not seen in the abun 
dance of the precious metal evidence of their truth. Mr Neligh, an agent of 
Com. Stockton, had been at work about three weeks in the neighborhood, and 


urally scarce. This no less than the sudden abundance 
of gold tended to depress the value of the metal, so much 
so that the miners often sold their dust for four dol 
lars an ounce, and seldom obtained at first more than 
eight or ten dollars. 13 The Indians were foremost in 

showed me in bags and bottles over $2,000 worth of gold; and Mr Lyman, a 
gentleman of education and worthy of every credit, said he had been engaged 
with four others, with a machine on the American fork, just below Butter s 
mill; that they worked eight days, and that his share was at the rate of $50 
a day; but hearing that others were doing better at Weber s place, they had 
removed there, and were then on the point of resuming operations. I might 
tell of hundreds of similar instances, he concludes. John Sinclair, at the 
junction of the north and middle branches of the American River, displayed 
14 pounds of gold as the result of one week s work, with fifty Indians using 
closely woven willow baskets. He had secured $16,000 in five weeks. Lar- 
kin writes in a similar strain from the American forks. Referring to a party 
of eight miners, he says: I suppose they made each $50 per day; their own 
calculation was two pounds of gold a day, four ounces to a man, $64. I saw 
two brothers that worked together, and only worked by washing the dirt in 
a tin pan, weigh the gold they obtained in one day. The result was $7 to 
one and $82 to the other. Buffum relates his own experiences on the middle 
branch of the American. Scratching round the base of a great bowlder, and 
removing the gravel and clay, he and his companions came to black sand, 
mingled with which was gold strewn all over the surface of the rock, and of 
which four of them gathered that day 26 ounces. The next day, our machine 
being ready, he continues, we looked for a place to work it, and soon found 
a little beach which extended back some five or six yards before it reached 
the rocks. The upper soil was a light black sand, on the surface of which we 
could see the particles of gold shining, and could in fact gather them up with 
our fingers. In digging below this we struck a red stony gravel that ap 
peared perfectly alive with gold, shining and pure. We threw off the top 
earth and commenced our washings with the gravel, which proved so rich 
that, excited by. curiosity, we weighed the gold extracted from the first wash 
ing of 50 panfuls of earth, and found $75, or nearly five ounces of gold to be 
the result. The whole day s work amounted to 25 ounces. A little lower on 
the river he struck the stony bottom of pocket, which appeared to be of 
pure gold, but upon probing it, I found it to be only a thin covering which 
by its own weight and the pressure above it had spread and attached itself to 
the rock. Crossing the river I continued my search, and after digging some 
time struck upon a hard, reddish clay a few feet from the surface. After two 
hours work I succeeded in finding a pocket out of which I extracted three 
lumps of pure gold, and one small piece mixed with oxydized quartz 2D 
ounces for the day; not much short of $500. There are a class of stories, sucu 
as those related by H. L. Simpson and the Rev. Colton, of a wilder and more 
romantic nature, apparently as easy to tell as those by writers of proved 
veracity, and which, whether true or false, I will not trouble my readers with. 
For additional information on yield, see more particularly Larkin s letters to 
the U S. secty of state, dated S. F., June 1, Monterey, June 28, July 1, July 
20, and Nov. 16, 1848, in Larkin s Official Corresp., MS., 131-41; Mason to 
to the adjt-gen., Aug. 17, 1848: U. S. Oov. Docs, 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. 
Doc. 17, 528-36; Sherman s Memoirs, i. 46-54; Soulfs Annals of S. F., 210; 
Carson s Early Recollections, passim; Hittell s Mining, 21; McChristian, in 
Pioneer Sketches, 9; Burnett s Recollections, i. 374-5; and a number of miscel 
laneous documents in Footer s Gold Regions. Also Simpson s Three Weeks in the 
Gol I Mint s; Cotton s Three Years in Cal. 

13 Jones writes in Nov. 1848 that miners often sold an ounce of gold for a sil 
ver dollar. It had been bought of Indians for 50 cents. Revert 8 Tour of 


lowering the price, at least in the early part of the 
season. They had no idea of the value of gold, and 
would freely exchange it for almost anything that 
caught their fancy. Although honest enough in 
dealings among themselves, the miners did not scruple 
to cheat the natives, 1 * the latter meanwhile thinking 
they had outwitted the white man. Presently, how 
ever, with growing experience, they began to insist 
upon a scale of fixed prices, whereupon the trader 
quoted prices of cotton cloth or calico at twenty 
dollars a yard, plain white blankets at six ounces, 
sarapes from twenty to thirty ounces each, beads 
equal weight in gold, handkerchiefs and sashes two 
ounces each. Care was moreover taken to arrange 
scales and weights especially for trade with the sav 
ages. To balance with gold the great slugs of lead, 
which represented a digger ounce, the savages re 
garded as fair dealing, and would pile on the precious 
dust until the scales exactly balanced, using every 
precaution to give no more than the precise weight. 
The scales usually employed, often improvised, were 
far from reliable; but a handful of gold-dust more or 
less in those days was a matter of no great moment. 15 
The inflowing miners arrived as a rule well sup 
plied with provisions and other requirements, but they 
had not counted fully on wear and tear, length of stay, 
and accidents. As a consequence, they nearly all came 
to want at the same time toward the close of the sea- 

Duty, 254. Carson says that gold was worth but $6 per ounce in the mines. 
Early Recollections, 14. Buffum says from $6 to $8. Six Month*, 96; Dally 
that it could not be sold for more than $8 or $9. Narrative, MS., 53; Swan 
says $4 to $8. Trip to the Gold Mines Birnie bought a quantity of dust at 
$4 per oz. in Mexican coin. Biog. in Pioneer Soc. Arch., MS., 93-4. 

14 We hear of ragged blankets and the like selling for their weight, 2 Ibs, 
3 oz. of dust being given for one. Buffuni s Six Month*. 93-4, 126-9; Coronel, 
Cosasde Cal., MS., 142-3; Fernandez, Cosas de Cat., MS., 175, 178; Tulare 
Times, Sept. 19, 1874. 

u Carson s Early Recollections, 35-6. Green relates that on the Tulare 
plains he sold his cart and pair of oxen to a Frenchman for $600. The gold was 
weighed by the Frenchman with improvised scales. Green fancied the French-" 
man was getting the better of him, but said nothing. On reaching Slitter s 
Fort he weighed the gold again and found it worth $2,000. Life and Adven 
tures, MS., 17. A somewhat fanciful story. 


son, and the supply and means of transportation being 
unequal to the demand, prices rose accordingly. 16 It 
did not take men long to adapt themselves to the new 
measurements of money ; nor could it be called extra v- 
agance when a man would pay $300 for a horse worth 
$6 a month before, ride it to the next camp, turn it 
loose and buy another when he wanted one, provided 
he could scrape from the ground the cost of an animal 
more easily than he could take care of one for a 
week or two. Extravagance is spending much when 
one has little. Gold was too plentiful, too easily 
obtained, to allow a little of it to stand in the way of 
what one wanted. It was cheap. Perhaps there 
were mounains of it near by, in which case six barrels 
of it might be easily given for one barrel of meal. 

And thus it was that all along this five hundred miles 
of foothills, daily and hourly through this and the 
following years, went up the wild cry of exultation 
mingled with groans of despair. For even now the 
unfortunate largely outnumbered the successful. It 
may seem strange that so many at such a time, and 
at this occupation above all others, should consent to 
work for wages; but though little capital save a stock 
of bread was required to work in the mines, some had 
lost all, and had not even that. Then the excitement 
and pressure of eager hope and restless labor told upon 
the constitution no less than the hard and unaccus 
tomed task under a broiling sun in moist ground, per 
haps knee-deep in water, and with poor shelter during 
the night, sleeping often on the bare ground. The 
result was wide-spread sickness, notably fevers and 

16 Sales are reported, for example, flour $800 a bbl; sugar, coffee, and 
pork, $400; a pick, shovel, tin pan, pair of boots, blanket, a gallon of whis 
key, and 500 other things, $100 each. Eggs were $3 each; drugs were $1 a 
drop; pills, $1 each; doctor s visit, $100, or $50, or nothing; cook s wages, 
$25 a day; hire of wagon and team, $50 a day; hire of rocker, $150 a day. If 
there happened to be an overstock in one place, which was not often the case 
during this year, prices were low accordingly. Any price, almost, would be 
paid for an article that was wanted, and nothing for what was not wanted. 
A Coloma store-keeper s bill in Dec. 1848 runs thus: 1 box sardines, $16; 1 Ib. 
hard bread, $2; 1 Ib. butter, $6; Ib. cheese, $3; 2 bottles ale, $16; total, $43; 
and this for not a very elaborate luncheon for two persons. 


dysentery, and also scurvy, owing to the lack of 
vegetables. 17 

The different exploitations resulted in the establish 
ment of several permanent camps, marked during 
this year by rude shanties, or at best by Jog huts, 
for stores, hotels, and drinking-saloons. Some of them 
surpassed in size and population Sutter s hitherto sol 
itary fortress, yet this post maintained its preemi 
nence as an entrep6t for trade and point of distribution, 
at least for the northern and central mining* fields, 

* O 

and a number of houses were rising to increase its im 
portance. On the river were several craft beating 
up with passengers and goods, or unlading at the 
landing. The ferry, now sporting a respectable 
barge, was in constant operation, arid along the roads 
were rolling freight trains under the lash and oaths of 
frantic teamsters, stirring thick clouds of incandescent 
dust into the hot air. Parties of horsemen, with 
heavy packs on their saddles, moved along slowly 
enough, yet faster than the tented ox-carts or mule- 
wagons with their similar burdens. A still larger 
proportion was foot-sore wanderers trudging along 
under their roll of blankets, which enclosed a few 
supplies of flour, bacon, and coffee, a little tobacco 
and whiskey, perhaps some ammunition, and, sus 
pended to the straps, a frying-pan of manifold utility, 
the indispensable pick and shovel, tin pan and cup, 
occasionally a gun, and at the belt a pair of pistols 
and a dirk. Up the steep hills and over the parched 
plains, toiling on beneath a broiling sun, such a load 
became a heavy burden ere nightfall. 

Within the fort all was bustle with the throno* of 


coming and going traffickers and miners, mostly rough, 
stalwart, bronze-faced men in red and blue woollen 
shirts, some in deerskin suits, or in oiled-skin and 
fishermen s boots, some in sombrero, Mexican sash, and 
spurs, loaded with purchases or bearing enticingly 

17 Buffum was attacked, but found a remedy in some bean-sprouts which 
had sprung up from an accidental spill. 


plethoric pouches in striking contrast to their fre 
quently ragged, unkempt, and woe-begone appear 
ance. Hardly less numerous, though less conspicuous, 
were the happy aboriginals, arrayed in civilization s 
cotton shirts, some with duck trousers, squatting 
in groups and eagerly discussing the yellow hand 
kerchiefs, red blankets, and bad muskets just secured 
by a little of this so lately worthless stuff which had 
been lying in their streams with the other dirt these 
past thousand years. 

Every storehouse and shed was crammed with mer 
chandise; provisions, hardware and dry goods, whis 
key and tobacco, and a hundred other things heaped 
in indiscriminate confusion. The dwelling of the 
hospitable proprietor, who had a word for everybody, 
and was held in the highest respect, was crowded 
with visitors, and presented the appearance of a hotel 
rather than private quarters. The guard-house, now 
deserted by its Indian soldiers, and most of the build 
ings had been rented to traders and hotel-keepers, 18 
who drove a rushing business, the sales of one store 
from May 1st to July 10th reaching more than $30,- 
000. 19 The workshops were busy as ever, for the 
places of deserting artisans could be instantly filled 
from passers-by in temporary need. 

In October the heavy rains and growing cold ren 
dered mining difficult, and in many directions impos 
sible. The steady tide of migration now turned 
toward the coast. Yet a large number remained, 
800 wintering at the Dry Diggings alone, and a large 
number on the Yuba, working most of the time, for 
the mines were yielding five ounces a day. Efforts 
proved remunerative also in many other places. 20 

18 A two-story house at $500 a month; rooms for $100. 

19 Sterling s company wrote Larkin not to delay in forwarding stock, for 
from 50 to 500 per cent could be made on everything. There were no fixed 

20 Hayes Cat. Mininrj, i. 50; Burne.tC* Rec., MS., 369-70; Bujf urn s Six 
Month*, 52; Cal. Star, bee. 12, 1848; Yuba Co. Hist., 37; HaWs Hist. S. 
Jose, 172-3. 


The more prudent devoted a little time to erecting log 
cabins, and otherwise making themselves comfortable ; 
but many who could not resist the fascinations of 
gold-hunting, and attempted, in ill-provided and cloth 
and brushwood shanties, to brave the inclemency of 
winter, suffered severely. From the beginning of 
October till the end of the rainy season men, disap 
pointed and sick, kept coining down to San Francisco, 
cursing the country and their hard fate. 21 Indeed, 
there were not many among the returning crowd, rich 
or poor, who could present a respectable appearance. 
They were a ragged, sun-burned lot, grimy and be- 
spotted, with unshorn beards and long, tangled hair; 
some shoeless, with their feet blistered and bandaged. 
Many were now content to return home and enjoy 
their good fortune, but many more remained to squan 
der their earnings during the winter, to begin the 
spring where they began the last one; yet as a body, 
the men of 1848 profited more by their gains than 
the men who came after them. 22 

21 There was greater mortality at the end of 1848 than ever before, says 
Grims/iaw, Narr., MS., 15. 

a2 Among the noted visitors at the mines, upon whose testimony the last 
chapters are to a great extent based, I would first mention J. H. Carson, the 
discoverer of Carson Creek, as he subscribed himself in the title-page of his 
book, Early Recollections of the Minr*, and a Description of the Great Tulare 
Vidley, a small octavo of 64 pp., printed at Stockton in 1852, to accompany 
the steamer edition of the San Joaquin Republican. It is significant, cer 
tainly, of newspaper enterprise, when a country journal could print so im 
portant and expensive an accompaniment to its regular issue. It ranks also 
as the first book issued at Stockton. Note also the dedication: To the 
Hon. A. Randall, of Monterey, Cal., Professor of Geology and Botany, who 
has spared neither energy nor expense in the Historical Researches of Cal 
ifornia, this humble work is most respectfully dedicated by his obliged and 
obedient servant, The Author. Let not his name perish. Mr Carson has made 
a very good book, an exceedingly valuable book. He sees well, thinks well, 
and writes well, though with some coloring. Already in 1852 he begins to talk 
with affection of the good old times, now past, when each day was big with 
the wonders and discoveries of rich diggings. The first 16 pages are devoted 
to a description of the mines; then follow some very good anecdotes and 
sketches; the whole concluding with a description of the Tulare Valley. 
Carson, a sergeant in the N. Y. reg., was residing at Monterey in the spring 
of 1848, when he was seized with this new western dance of St Vitus, and was 
carried on an old mule to the gold-diggings. He began work at Mormon 
Island by annihilating earth in his wash-basin, standing up to his knees in 
water, slashing and splashing as if resolving the universe to its original 
elements. Fifty pans of dirt thus pulverized gave the fevered pilgrim but 
fifty cents; whereupon a deep disgust filled his soul, and immediately with 


Obviously the effect for good and evil of finding 
gold was first felt by those nearest the point of dis- 

the departure of his malady the man departed. On passing through Weber s 
Indian trading camp, however, he saw such heaps of glittering gold as brought 
the ague on again more violent than ever, resulting in a prolonged stay at 
Kelsey s and Hangtown. Instead of fortune, however, came sickness, which 
drove him away to other pursuits, and brought him to the grave at Stockton 
in April 1853, shortly after his election to the legislature. His widow and 
daughter arrived from the east a month later, and being destitute, were 
assisted to return by a generous subscription. 

Another member of the same regiment, Henry I. Simpson, who started 
the 18th of Aug., 1848, from Monterey to the mines, wrote a book chiefly 
remarkable from its publication in New York, in 1848, describing a trip to the 
mines which could not have been concluded much more than three months 
before that time. It was not impossible, though it was quick work, if true, 
and we will not place Mr Simpson, or his publishers, Joyce & Company, 
under suspicion unless we find them clearly guilty. The title is a long one 
for so thin a book, a pamphlet of thirty octavo pages, and somewhat preten 
tious, as the result of only three weeks observation; but Mr Simpson is not 
the only one who has attempted to enlighten the world respecting this region 
after a ten or twenty days ride through it. and to tell more of the country 
than the inhabitants had ever known, thinking that because things were new 
to themselves they were new to everybody. Such personages are your Todds 
and Riehardsons, your Grace Greenwoods, Pfeifers, Mary Cones, and fifty 
others who cover their ignorance by brilliant flashes that gleam before the 
simple as superior knowledge. Nevertheless, I will be charitable, and print 
this title, which, indeed, gives more information than any other part of the 
book. It reads: The Emigrant s Guide to the Gold Mines. Three Weeks in 
the Gold Mines, or Adventures with the Gold-Diggers of California, in August, 
1848, together with Advice to Emigrants, with full Instructions upon the bext 
Methods of Getting There, Living, Expenses, etc., etc., and a Complete 
Description of the Country. With a Map and Illustrations. And such a 
map, and such illustrations! I should say that the draughtsman had taken 
the chart of Cortes, or Vizcaino, thrown in some modern names, and daubed 
yellow a strip north of San Francisco Bay to represent the gold-fields. In 
deed, there is very little of California about this map. The price of the 
book with the map was 25 cents; without the map, 12 cents. It is to be 
hoped that purchasers took it in the latter form, for the less they had of it 
the wiser they would be. As for illustrations, there are just four, whose only 
merit is their badness. Fourteen pages of the work are devoted to the nar 
rative of a trip to the mines; nine pages to a description of the country and 
its inhabitants; the remainder being occupied by advice to emigrants con 
cerning outfit and ways to reach the country. Mr Simpson s ideas are 
rambling and inflated, and his pictures of the country more gaudy than 
gorgeous. He certainly tells large stories Bigler says wrong stories of 
river-beds paved with gold to the thickness of a hand, of $20,000 or $50,000 
worth picked out almost in a moment, and so forth ; but he printed a book on 
California gold in the year of its discovery, and this atones for many defects. 
Had all done as well as this soldier-adventurer, we should not lack material 
for the history of California. 

J. Tyrwhitt Brooks, an Englisn physician lately from Oregon, started in 
May 1848 from S. F. for the gold-field, with a well-equipped party of five. 
After a fairly successful digging at Mormon Island they moved to Weber 
Creek, and thence to Bear River, where, despite Indian hostility, 115 pounds 
of gold were obtained, the greater part of which, however, was destined to fall 
into the hands of highwaymen. The scenes and experiences of the trip Brooks 
recorded in a diary, which, forwarded to his brother in London, was there pub 
lished under title of Four Months among the Gold-Finders in Alto, California. 


covery. Upon the discoverer himself, in whose mind 
so suddenly arose visions of wealth and influence, it 

two editions appearing in London in 1849, and one in America, followed by a 
translation at Paris. A map accompanies the English edition, with a yellow 
and dotted line round the gold district then extending from R. d L. Muke- 
lemnes to Bear River. The book is well written, and the author s observa 
tions are such as command respect. 

After many sermons preached against money as the root of all evil, and 
after lamenting fervently the present dispensation for depriving him of his 
servant, temptation also seized upon the Rev. Walter Colton, at the time 
acting alcalde at Monterey, and formerly chaplain on board the U. S. ship 
Congress. With ive companions, including Lt Simmons, Wilkinson, son of a 
former U. S. minister to Russia, and Marcy, son of him who was once sec. of 
war, he started for the diggings in Sept. 1848, freighting a wagon with cooking 
utensils, mining tools, and articles for Indian traffic. He passed through 
the Livermore gap to the Stanislaus, meeting on the way a ragged but richly 
laden party, whose display of wealth gave activity to his movements. Two 
months saw him back again, rich in experience if not in gold, and primed with 
additional material for his Three Yearn in California, a book published in 
New York in 1850, and covering the prominent incidents coming under his 
observation during the important days between the summer of 1846 and the 
Slimmer of 1849. Cal. life in mines and settlements, and among the Spanish 
race, receives special attention, in a manner well calculated to bring out quaint 
and characteristic features. Appearing as it did while the gold fever was still 
raging, the work received much attention, and passed quickly through several 
editions, later under the changed title, Land of Gold. It also assisted into 
notice his Deck and Fort, a diary like the preceding, issued the same year, and 
reaching the third edition, which treats of scenes and incidents during the 
voyage to Cal. in 1845, and constitutes a prelude to the other book. While 
the popularity of both rests mainly upon the time and topic, yet it owes much 
to the style, for Colton is a genial writer, jocose, with an easy, careless flow 
of language, but inclines to the exuberant, and is less exact in the use of 
words than we should expect from a professed dealer in unadulterated truth, 
natural and supernatural. 

Six Months in the Gold Mines; being a Journal of Three Years Residence 
in Upper and Lower California, 1847-9, is a small octavo of 172 pages by E. 
Gould Buffum, sometime lieut in the first reg., N. Y. Volunteers, and before 
that connected with the N. Y. press. It was published while the author re 
mained in Cal., and constitutes one of the most important printed contribu 
tions to the history of Cal., no less by reason of the scarcity of material 
concerning the period it covers, 1848-9, than on account of the ability of the 
author. For he was an educated man, remarkably free from prejudice, a close 
observer, and possessing sound judgment. He is careful in his statements, 
conscientious, not given to exaggeration, and his words and ways are such as 
inspire confidence. The publishers notice is dated May 1850. The author s 
introduction is dated at S. F. Jan. I, 1850. Hence his book cannot treat of 
events happening later than 1849. First is given his visit to the mines, nota 
bly on the Bear, Yuba, and American rivers, with the attendant experiences 
and observations. Then follow a description of the gold region, the possibil 
ities of the country in his opinion, movements toward government, descrip 
tions of old and new towns, and a dissertation on Lower Cal. The style is 
pleasant simple, terse, strong, yet graceful, and with no egoism or affecta 

.No less valuable than the preceding for the present subject are a number 
of manuscript journals and memoirs by pioneers, recording their personal ex 
periences of matters connected with the mines, trade, and other features of 
early Cal. periods. Most of them are referred t) elsewhere, and I need here 
ouly instance two or three. A. F. Coronel, subsequently mayor of Los An- 


fell like the gold of Nibelungen, in the Edda, which 
brought nothing but ill luck to the possessor. And 
to Sutter, his partner, being a greater man, it proved 
a greater curse. Yet this result was almost wholly 
the fault of the man, not of the event. What might 
have been is not my province to discuss; what was 
and is alone remain for me to relate. We all think 
that of the opportunity given these men we should 
have made better use; doubtless it is true. They 
were simple backwoods people; we have knocked our 
heads against each other until they have become hard; 
our tongues are sharpened by lying, and our brains 
made subtle by much cheating. Sutter and Marshall, 
though naturally no more honest than other men, 
were less astute and calculating ; and while the former 

O * 

had often met trick with trick, it was against less 
skilled players than those now entering the game. In 
their intercourse with the outside world, although 

geles, and a prominent Califorman, made a trip to the Stanislaus and found 
rich deposits, as related in his Corns de Cat., a volume of 265 pp. , which forms 
one of the best narratives, especially of happenings before the conquest. One 
of his fellow-miners in 1848 was Agustin Janssens, a Frenchman, who came 
to Cal. in 1834 as one of the colonists of that year. He left his rancho at 
Santa Inds in Sept. 1848, with several Indian servants, and remained at the 
Stanislaus till late in Dec. In his Vida y Aventuras en California de Don 
Ayitxtin Janssens vecino de Santa Barbara, Dictadas por el mismo d Thomas 
fiuvatje, MS., 1878, he shows the beginning of the race aggressions from which 
the Latins were subsequently to suffer severely. Besides several hundred of 
such dictations in separate and voluminous form, I have minor accounts in 
letter and reports, bound with historic collections, such as Larkin, Docs, MS., 
i.-ix. ; Doc. Hist. Cal., MS., i.-iv. ; Vallejo, Docs, MS., i.-xxxvi. passim. 
Instance the observations of Charles B. Sterling and James Williams, both in 
the service of Larkin, and who mined and traded on the south and north 
branches of the American, with some success. The official report of Thomas 
O. Larkin to the sec. of state of June 28, 1848, was based on a personal visit 
to the central mining region early in that month. So was that of Col R. B. 
Mason, who left Monterey June 17th, attended by W. T, Sherman and Quar 
termaster Folsom, escorted by four soldiers. By way of Sonoma they reached 
Slitter s Fort, where the 4th of July was duly celebrated, and thence moved 
up the south branch of the American River to Weber Creek. Mason was 
summoned back to Monterey from this point, but had seen enough to enable 
him to write the famous report of Aug. 17th to the adj. -gen. at Washington, 
which started the gold fever ubroad. A later visit during the autumn ex 
tended to the Stanislaus and Sonora diggings. Folsorn also made a report, 
but gave little new information. He attempted to furnish the world, through 
Gen. Jesup, with a history and description of the country, in which effort he 
attained no signal success. He did not like the climate; he did not like the 
mines. Yet he was gracious enough to say, I went to them in the most 
sceptical frame of mind, and came away a believer. 


they were adventurers, they proved themselves little 
better than children, and as such they were grossly 
misused by the gold-thirsting rabble brought down 
upon them by their discovery. 

Marshall and Sutter kept the Mormons at work on 
the saw-mill as best they were able, until it was com 
pleted and in operation, which was on the llth of 
March. The Mormons merited and received the ac 
knowledgments of their employers for faithfulness in 
holding to their agreements midst constantly increas 
ing temptations. Both employers engaged also in 
mining, especially near the mill, claiming a right, to 
the ground about it, which claim at first was gener 
ally respected. With the aid of their Indians they 
took out a quantity of gold; but this was quickly lost; 
and more was found and lost. Sutter mined else 
where with Indians arid Kanakas, and claims never to 
have derived any profit from these efforts. The mill 
could not be made to pay. Several issues before long 
arose between Marshall and the miners regarding 
their respective rights and the treatment of the 

Marshall was less fortunate than almost any of the 
miners. This ill success, combined with an exagger 
ated estimate of his merits as discoverer, left its 
impress on his mind, subjecting it more and more to 
his spiritualistic doctrines. In obedience to phantom 
beckonings, he flitted hither and thither about the 
foothills, but his supernatural friends failed him in 
every instance. 23 He became petulant and querulous. 
Dfscouraged and soured, he grows restive under en 
croachments on his scanty property, 24 and the abuse 

23 Should I go to new localities says Marshall, and commence to open a 
new mine, before I could prospect the ground, numbers flocked in and com 
menced seeking all around me, and, as numbers tell, some one would find the 
lead before me and inform their party, and the ground was claimed. Then 
I would travel again. Twice Sutter gave him a prospector s outfit and started 
him. He was no longer content with his former plodding industry. He 
was always after big things, Sutter said. I have wondered that he did not 
in the first instance attribute his discovery to the direction of the spirits. 

24 Early in 1849, after Winters and Bayley had purchased the half-interest 
of Sutter in the saw-mill, and one third of the half-interest of Marshall, 


and butchery of his aboriginal proteges. Forced by 
the now enraged miners to flee from his home and 
property, he shoulders his pack of forty pounds and 
tramps the mountains and ravines, living on rice. He 
seeks employment and is refused. " We employ you 1" 
they cry ironically. "You must find gold for us. 
You found it once, and you can again." And it is 
told for a fact, and sworn to by his former partner, 
that they " threatened to hang him to a tree, mob 
him, etc., unless he would go with them and point 
out the rich diggings." 25 

There is something unaccountable in all this. Mar 
shall must have rendered himself exceedingly obnox 
ious to the miners, who, though capable of fiendish acts, 
were not fiends. While badly treated in some respects, 
he was undoubtedly to blame in others. Impelled by 
the restlessness which had driven him west, and over 
come by morbid reflections, he allowed many of his good 
qualities to drift. In his dull, unimaginative way he 
out-Timoned Timon in misanthropy. He fancied him 
self followed by a merciless fate, and this was equiva 
lent to courting such a destiny. 26 It is to be regretted 

miners and others came in and squatted on the ground claimed by Marshall, 
regardless of the posted notices warning them off. Thirteen of Sutter & 
Marshall s oxen soon went down into the canon, says Marshall, and thence 
down hungry men s throats. These cost $400 per yoke to replace. Seven of 
my horses went to carry weary men s packs. The mill hands deserted, and 
before the mill could be started again certain white men at Murderer s Bar 
butchered some Indians and ravished their women. The Indians retaliated 
and killed four or five white men. So far it was an even thing; the white 
men had met only their just deserts. But the excuse to shoot natives was too 
good to be lost. A mob gathered, and failing to find the hostile tribe, attacked 
the Culumas, who were wholly innocent and friendly, and many of them at 
work about the mill. Of these they shot down seveh; and when Marshall in 
terfered to defend his people, the mob threatened him, so that he was obliged 
to fly for his life. After a time he returned to Coloma only to find the place 
claimed by others, who had laid out a town there. Completely bankrupt, 
Marshall was obliged to leave the place in search of food, and soon he was in 
formed that the miners had destroyed the dam, and stolen the mill timbers, 
and that was the end of the saw mill. Neither Marshall, Winters, nor 
Bayley ever received a dollar for their property. Parsons Life of Marshall, 

25 To save him, I procured and secreted a horse, and with this he escaped. 
Affidavit of John Winters, in Parsons Life of Marshall, 178. See also Mar 
shall s statement, in Dunbar s Romance of the A</e, 117-23. 

26 I wandered for more than four years, he continues, . . . feeling myself 
under some fatal influence, a curse, or at least some bad circumstances. 


that he sank also into poverty, passing the last twenty- 
eight years of his life near Coloma, the centre of his 
dreams, sustained by scanty fare and shadowy hopes 
of recognition. 27 


Finally he breaks forth: I see no reason why the government should give to 
others and not to me. In God s name, can the circumstance of my being the 
first to find the gold regions of California be a cause to deprive me of every 
right pertaining to a citizen from under the flag? These, I say, are not the 
sentiments of a healthy mind. The government was not giving more to others 
than to him. One great trouble was, that he early conceived the idea, wholly 
erroneous, that the government and the world owed him a great debt; that 
but for him gold in California never would have been found. In some way 
Marshall became mixed up with that delectable association, the Hounds. Of 
course he denies having been one of them, but his knowledge of their watch 
word and other secrets looks suspicious. .Judging entirely by his own state-- 
ments, particularly by his denials, I deem it more than probable that he was 
a member of the band. 

27 Returning to Coloma in the spring of 1857, he obtained some odd jobs of 
work sawing wood, making gardens, and cleaning wells. Then for $15 he 
purchased some land of little value on the hill-side adjacent and planted a 
vineyard. He obtained for some years a small pension from the state. An 
object of charity on the part of the state, says Barstow, Rtat., MS., 14. Sut- 
ter, Pers. Rem., MS., 205, says the same. The Elko Independent, Jan. 15, 
1870, states that he was then living at Kelsey s Diggings. He is upward of 
fifty years of age, and though feeble, is obliged to work for his board and 
clothes, not being able to earn more. Mr E. Weller writes me in Aug. 188 L 
from Coloma: Mr Marshall is living at Kelsey, about three miles from this 
place. He has a small orchard in this place which he rents out for $25 per 
year. He was never married. He is trying a little at mining, but it is rather 
up-hill work, for he is now a feeble old man. He died in August 1885, aged 
73. Among authorities referring to him are Barstow s Stat., MS., 14; Burnett s 
Rec., MS., ii. 10; Crosby s Events in CaL, MS., 17; Annals of S. F., 767, where 
may be found a poor portrait; Sutler s Pers. Rec., MS., 160 and 205-6; Powers 
Afoot, 292-3; Schlagintweit, CaL, 216. The Sac. ^cord-Union, Jan. 20, 1872, 
states that he was forced in his old age to eke out a scanty subsistence by 
delivering rough lectures based upon his wretched career. Further references, 
Grass Valley Union, April 19, 1870; Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 17, 1875; Fol- 
som Telegraph, Sept. 17, 1871; Solano Republican, Sept. 29, 1870; Nupa 
Register, Aug. 1, 1874; Vallejo Chron., Oct. 10, 1874; Truckee Tribune, 
Jan. 8, 1870; S. F. Alta CaL, May 5, 1872, and Aug. 17, 1874; 8. F. News 
Letter, July 19, 1879; History of Nevada, 78; S. F. Bulletin, Dec. 6, 1855; 
Aug. 10-14, 1885; Yolo Co. Hist., 86; Tinkham s Hixt. Stockton, 108; Lancey s 
Cruise of the Dale, MS., 66; SanJoaquin County Hist., 20; SutterCo. Hist., 21. 
The Romance of the Age, or the Discovery of Gold in California, by Edward E. 
Dunbar, New York, 1867, was written with the view of securing government 
relief for Sutter. Dunbar writes graphically, and begins his book with these 
words: Somebody has said that history is an incorrigible liar. If all history 
were written as Mr Dunbar writes, I should fully agree with him. Little 
that is reliable has been printed on Marshall and the gold discovery, eye 
witnesses, even, seemingly forgetting more than they remember. The most 
important work upon the subject IB the Life and Adventures of James W, 
Marshall, by George Frederic Parsons, published in Sacramento by James W. 
Marshall and W. Burke, in 1870. The facts here brought out with the utmost 
clearness and discrimination were taken from those best knowing them. 
George Frederic Parsons was born at Brighton, England, June 15, 1840. He 
was educated at private schools. Having spent five years at sea, during 
which he several times visite^ the East Indies, he was attracted by tli 


With regard to Sutter, his position and possibilities, 
there was within reach boundless wealth for him, could 
he have seized it; his fall was as great though not so 
rapid as Marshall s. Out of the saw-mill scheme he 
came well enough, gathering gold below Coloma, and 
selling his half-interest in the mill for $6,000. His 
troubles began at the flour-mill. After he had ex 
pended not less than $30,000 in a vain attempt to 
complete it, it went to decay. 28 The men in tlie 

reports of the gold-fields of Cariboo in 1862, and made an expedition thither. 
Keturning from the mines unsuccessful, he entered journalism in Victoria, 
V. I. In 1803 he started a paper called the North Pnific Time*, at New 
Westminster, B. C. The population was too small to support it, and it was 
abandoned in a few months. He then went t,o San Francisco, and joined the 
staff of the Examiner. In 1867 he left that paper to take a position on the 
/S F . F. Times. Entering the local staff, he finally became the chief editorial 
wricer of the paper, and occupied that post when it was merged in the Ada,. 
This occurred at the end of 1869, and the same winter Mr Parsons assumed 
editorial control of the Sacramento Record, a republican journal. He con 
tinued to edit the Record until it was consoli ated with the Sacramento 
Union as the Record- Union, and subsequently to that until 1882, when he left 
California and accepted a position on the editorial staff of the New York 
Tribune. Mr Parsons was married in 1869, and had one daughter, Melami, 
who died in 1881 of typhoid fever. He was a contributor to* the Overland 
Monthly during the editorship of Bret Harte, and has written several short 
items besides magazine articles, ordinary press work, reviews, and his life of 
Marshall. Mr Parsons life has been notable for its quietness and evenness. 
I have not known a journalist in the field of my history superior, if equal, 
to him in philosophic insight, knowledge of men and things, critical famil 
iarity \vith literature, or power and charm of style. He is not a man, how 
ever, who would ever parade his name before the public. Personal notoriety 
is repellant to him. Considering his capacity and character, the people of 
the whole country are to be congratulated that he has taken an editorial place 
on the Tribune, a journal of splendid talent and national influence, as the 
sphere of his influence is thus greatly enlarged. Mr Parsons is a man of solid 
accomplishments and sterling integrity. He is preeminently a hater of shams 
in politics or society. It would be to the advantage of the people of the 
United States if editors like him were more numerous. 

36 My grist-mill never was finished. Everything was stolen, even the 
stones. There is a saying that men will steal everything but a mile-stone and 
a mill-stone. They stole my mill-stones. They stole the bells from the fort, 
and gate-weights; the hides they stole, and salmon -barrels. I had 200 bar 
rels which I had made for salmon. I was just beginning to cure salmon then. 
I had put up some before, enough to try it, and to ascertain that it would be 
a good business. Some of the cannon at the fort were stolen, and some I gave 
to neighbors that they might fire them on the 4th of July. My property was 
all left exposed, and at the mercy of the rabble, when gold was discovered. 
My men all deserted me. I could not shut the gates of my fort and keep out 
the rabble. They would have broken them down. The country swarmed with 
lawless men. Emigrants drove their stock into my yard, and used my grain 
with impunity. Expostulation did no good. I was alone. There was no 
law. If one felt one s self insulted, one might shoot the offender. One man 
shot another for a slight provocation in the fort under my very nose. Phil 
osopher Pickett shot a very good man who differed with him on some ques- 


fields asked for more and more pay, until a demand 
for ten dollars a day compelled Sutter to let them go. 
These were the first to leave him ; then his clerk went, 
then his cook, and finally his mechanics. 29 At the 
tannery, which was now for the first time becoming 
profitable, leather was left to rot in the vats, and a large 
quantity of collected hides were rendered valueless. 
So in all the manufactories, shoe-shop, saddle-shop, 
hat and blacksmith shops, the men deserted, leaving 
their work in a half-finished state. Where others suc 
ceeded he failed; he tried merchandising at Coloma, 
but in vain, and retired in January 1849. The noise of 
interlopers and the bustle of business about the fort 
discomfited the owner, and with his Indians he moved 
to Hock Farm, then in charge of a majordomo. Sut 
ter evidently could not cope with the world, partic 
ularly with the sharp and noisy Yankee world. 30 

Tenfold greater were Sutter s advantages to profit 
by this discovery than were those of his neighbors, 
who secured rich results. With a well-provisioned 
fortress adjacent to the mines, a large grant of land 

tion. Sutter s Pers. Rem., MS., 195-6. All Sutter s pains in establishing indus 
tries went for nothing. Burnett s liec., MS., ii. 13; Thornton s Or. and Cal., 
ii. 270; Sac. III., 7; Browne s Res., 15; Gold Hill News, April 16, 1872; Lar- 
k m s Docs, MS., vi. 63. 

29 The Mormons did not like to leave my mill unfinished, Sutter remarks, 
* but they got the gold fever like everybody else. Hutchings* Mag., ii. 197. 
See also Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 17, 1875. 

30 As a matter of fact, the Swiss had nothing whatever to complain of. He 
was his own greatest enemy. His representations of the disastrous effect 
upon him of the gold discovery were greatly exaggerated. They were by 
no means so bad as he wished them to appear. During harvest-time in the 
year of discovery he was much better off than his neighbors, who never 
asked indemnification from the government. Says Col Mason, who was there ia 
July: I before mentioned that the greater part of the farmers and rancheros 
had abandoned their fields to go to the mines; this is not the case with Capt. 
Sutter, who was carefully gathering his wheat, estimated at 40,000 bushels. 
Flour is already worth at Sutter s $36 a barrel, and soon will be $-30. It was 
reported that Capt. Sutter s crop of wheat for 1846 would be 75,000 bushels. 
Sherwood s Pocket Guide to Cal., 18. He had received liberally from the 
Mexican government what was liberally ratified by the American govern 
ment. Far more manly, not to say respectable, would it have been had he 
lived modestly on some small portion of the fruit of his labors, or of good 
fortune, instead of spending his old age complaining, and importuning the 
government for alms. Everything had been given him, fertile lands, and 
golden opportunity. With these he should have been content. In return I 
gladly record it he gave aid to suffering emigrants, and nobly exercised a 

-bounteous hospitality, and that to many who afterward treated him vilely. 


stocked with cattle and horses land on which shortly 
after began to be built the second city in the state 
and with broad fields under cultivation ; with a market, 
at fabulous prices, for everything he could supply 
he should have barrelled a schooner-load of gold-dust, 
even though the emigrants did encroach on his claims, 
settle on his land, steal his horses and other effects, 
and butcher some of his cattle and hogs. Further 
than this, it was not until more than a year after the 
discovery, during which time the owner of New Hel 
vetia abandoned his duties and let things drift, that 
any serious inroads were made on his droves of wild 
and uncared-for cattle. The truth is, had the grand 
discovery been less, Sutter s loss would have been less; 
had the discovery been quite small, Sutter s profit from 
it would have been great. In other words, Sutter 
was not man enough to grasp and master his good 

There are those who have deemed it their duty to 
censure California for not doing more for Sutter and 
Marshall. Such censure is not only unjust, but silly 
and absurd. There was no particular harm in flinging 
to these men a gratuity out of the public purse, and 
something of the kind was done. It was wholly 
proper to hang a portrait of Sutter in the hall of the 
state capitol beside that of Yallejo and others. 

If there are any who wish to worship the memory 
of Marshall, let his likeness be also placed in the pan 
theon. It is all a matter of taste. But when outside 
critics begin to talk of duty and decency on the part 
of the state, it is well enough to inquire more closely 
into the matter, and determine just what, if anything, 
is due to these men. 

When a member of the commonwealth by his genius 
or efforts renders the state a great service, it is proper 
that such service should be publicly acknowledged, 
and if the person or his family become poor and need 


pecuniary aid, the state should give it liberally and 
ungrudgingly. The people of California are among 
the most free-hearted and free-handed of any in the 
world; there never has been any popular feeling 
against Marshall and Sutter; that more was not given 
them was neither a matter of money nor a matter of 
ill-will or prejudice. The question was simply asked, 
What had these men done to entitle them to lavish 
reward on the part of the people? To one of them, 
and him a foreigner, was secured by the general gov 
ernment a title to princely possessions in the midst of 
princely opportunities. That he failed to secure to 
himself the best and most lasting advantages of his 
position, and like a child let go his hold on all his vast 
possessions, was no fault of the people, and entitles 
him to no special sympathy. Marshall, made of quite 
common clay, but still a free-born American citizen, 
with rights equal to the best, happened to stumble on 
gold a week, or a month, or six months before some 
one else would certainly have done so. The fame of 
it was his, and as much of the gold as he chose to 
shovel up and carry away. There was not the least 
merit on his part connected with the event. That he 
failed to profit by his opportunity, assuming that the 
world, by reason of the immortal accident, owed him a 
great debt which it would not pay; that he became 
petulant, half-crazed, and finally died in obscurity 
was no fault of the people. Any free-born American 
citizen has the right to do the same if he chooses. I 
grant that he as well as Sutter could justly claim 
recompense for spoliation by mobs though there is 
no evidence that they ever suffered greatly at the 
hands of mobs and the continuance of the temporary 
pension granted them would not have been particu 
larly objectionable, on grounds similar to those applied 
to Hargrave, the Australian gold-finder. The services 
of the latter, however, had the consecration of a self- 
imposed task exploration with an aim. As a blind 


instrument in the hands of inevitable development, 
as a momentary favorite of fortune, I concede Mar 
shall every credit. I also admit that Sutter, as the 
builder of a great establishment in the wilderness, 
with industries supporting numerous dependents, thus 
bringing the truest method of culture to savages, and 
as the promoter of the undertaking at Coloma, is 
entitled to a share in the recognition which must 
connect him with the accidental founders of the golden 
era of California. But to talk of injustice or niggard 
liness on the part of the state of California; to imply 
that there was any necessity for either of these men 
to throw themselves away, or that the people of Cal 
ifornia did not feel or do rightly by them is, as I 
said before, silly and absurd. 31 

31 Fuller references for the preceding six chapters are: Bidwell s Cal. in 
1841-8, MS., passim; Galindo, Apuntes, MS., 68-9; Buff urn 1 8 Six Months, 
45-6, 50, 53-5, 67-9, 104-5, 126-38; Dunbar s Romance of the Age, 92-100, 
103, 107-16; Kip, in Overland Monthly, ii. 410; Zamacois, Hist. Mej., x. 1141; 
Ferry, CaL, 103-4, 315-20; Illust. Napa Co., and Hist. Napa and Lake, 
passim; Annals of S. F., 130-2, 174, 210, 311, 407, 486; Arch. Cal., Un 
bound Docs, MS., 141, 318, 408-11; Clyman s Diary, MS.; Coltoris Three. 
Years, 266, 451; Revere s Tour of Duty, 228-52; Castanares, Col. Doc., MS., 
23; Vallcjo (S.), Notas H istdricas, MS., 35; Hall s Hist., 192-3; Find la s State 
ment, MS., 5-7; Tinkham s Hist. Stockton, 1-50, 71^, 108-15, 303; U. S. 
Gov. Docs, H. Ex. 17, 528-36, 561; Farnham s Cal., 354-6; Dwinelle s Add. 
lef ore Pioneers, 1866, 28; Hancock s Thirteen Years, MS., 121-2; Yolo Co. 
Hist., passim; Dana s Two Years, 324; Coast Review, iv. 73-5, 217, 265-8; 
v. 25-8, 65-8, 107-8; Treasury of Travel, 99-101; Napa Register, Aug. 1, 
1874; First Steamship Pioneers, 368; Janssens, Vida y A vent. , MS., 198-200; 
Johnson s Cal. and Or.; Coutt s Diary, MS., passim; Slocum and Co. s Contra 
Costa Co. Hist., passim; Foster s Gold Regions, 17-22; Yuba Co. Hist., 33-7, 
107, 129-30; Coronel, Cosas de CaL, MS.; Hist. Atlas Alameda Co., 17-20; 
Revue, des Deux Mondes, Feb. 1, 1849; Tyler s Mormon Battalion, 333; Tut- 
hiWs CaL, 226-34; Wood s Hist. Alam. Co., passim; Bandini, Apuntes Hist. 
Alta CaL, MS., 7, 17-19, 48-9; Schuck s Scrap-Book, 76-83; Tullidge s Life 
of Young, 203-4, 207-8; Hist. Marin Co., passim; Sac. Direct., 1871, 17; 
Frignet, Hist. CaL, 79-80; Palmer s Wagon Trains, MS., 43; Truckee Trib 
une, Jan. 8, 1870; Browne s Mining Res., 13-16; CaL Pioneers, Celebration 
Scraps; Herbert Ainslie s Journal, Panama, Feb. 1849; Bryant s What I Saw 
in CaL, 451, etc.; Gold Hill News, Apr. 16, 1872; Capron s CaL, 184-8; 
Auger, Fo.y. en CaL, 149-56; Baxter s IV. Coast A mer. , 408; Oroville Mercury, 
Dec. 31, 1875; Birnie s Biog., in Pion. Arch., 93-4; Monterey Herald, Oct. 15, 
1875; Cal. Past and Pres., 72-105; J. Ross Browne, in Overland Monthly, xv. 
345; Wells Hist. Butte Co., 129; Calistoya Tribune, Apr. 4, 11, 12, 1872; 
Coloma Argus, in Hittell s Handbook, 14; Thompson and West s Hist. Sac. 
Co., passim; Utah, Hdbk of Ref., 65; Frost s Hist. Cal., 39-55; Dept Rec., 
MS., ix. 136; Elliott & Co. s Hist. Ariz., 190; Centenn. Book Alam. Co., 
37-56; Colusa Co. Hist., 25-36; Placer Times, vol. i. no. 48, p. 2; Velasco, 
Sonora, 288-97; Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog., xi. 108-9; Alam. Encinal, March 2, 
1878; Butte Co. Illust.. 127-9; Carver s Travel*, 122; Willey s Pers. Mem., 


MS., 19-26; Id., Thirty Years, 26; Salt Lake City Trib., June 11, 1879; 
Bancroft s Pert. Obs., MS., 171; Illust. of Contra Costa, Co., 4-33; Whitney s 
Metallic Wealth, pp. xxi.-xxxii.; J. J. Warner, in Alta Cal., May 18, 1868; 
Austin Reese Riv. Rereule, July 17, 1864, Aug. 10, 1865, Jan. 29, 1872; Cal. 
Chronicle, Jan. 28, 1856; Prescott Miner, Nov. 22, 1878; Niles Reg., Ixiii. 96; 
Ixxv., index "gold mines;" Cronies Nat. Wealth, 109; Culver s Sac. City 
Direct., 71; Barnes* Or. and Cal., MS., 11; George M. Evans, in the Oregon 
Bulletin, Jan. 12, 1872, from Antioch Ledger, Feb. 3, 1872, and Mendocino 
Dem., Feb. 1, 1872; Hunt s Merch. Mag., xxxi. 385-6; Barlow s Stat., MS., 
14; Carson State Reg., Jan. 27, 1872; Castroville Argus, Sept. 7, 1872; Wort- 
ley s Travels in U. S., 223; Sac. Illust., 7; Lo Que Sabe, MS.; Green s Life 
and Advent., 17; Trinity Journal, Weaverville, Feb. 1, 1868; June 20, 1874; 
Gilroy Advocate, Apr. 24, 1875; Lake Co. Bee, March 8, 1873; Monitor 
Gazette, Aug. 19, 1865; Los Angeles W. News, Oct. 26, 1872; Marshall s Dis- 
cov. ofG.tld, in Hutchings Mag., ii. 200; U. 8. Gov. Docs, 30th cong. 2d sess., 
H. Ex. Doc. 1, pt i. 9-10, 51-69, in Mex. Treaties, vii. no. 9; Hist. Napa and 
Lake Counties, passim; R\iss Biog., MS., 5; Oakland Times, March 6, 1880; 
J lardy s Trav. in Mex., 331-2; 8. I. News, ii. 134, 142, 146-7, 151, 158-66, 
193-4; Oroville W. Mercury, Dec. 31, 1875; New Tacoma W. Ledger, Oct. 8, 
1880; Harle s Skaggs Husbands, 299-309; Cal. Star, passim; Calif or jiian, 
passim; Cal. Star and Californian, 1848, passim; S. F. Direct., 1852-3, 8-9; 
Ross Stat., MS., 14; Rul (Miguel), Consult. Diputado, 60; Red Bluff Indep., 
Jan. 17, 1866; Henshaw s Hist. Events, 4-6; Herald, Nov. 24, 1848; Jan. 20, 
1849; Marin Co. Hist., 52-3; Sac. Rec.-Union, Jan. 20, 1872, Aug. 28, 1880; 
8. Diego Arch., Index, 92; S. Diego Union, June 2, 1875; Nevada Gaz. t Jan. 
22, 1868; -S. F. Call, Sept. 16, 1870; Sept. 23, 1871; S. Joaquin Co. Hist., 
passim; 8. F. News Letter, Sept. 11, 1875; 8. F. Post, Apr. 10, 1875; Roswag, 
Metaux, 209-406; Sac. Daily Union, Apr. 27, 1855; June 5, 1858; Oct. 24, 
1864; June 7, 1867, etc.; 8. F. Pac. News, Oct. 28, 1850; 8. F. Stock Rept, 
March 19, 1880; Pfeifer s Sec. Journey, 290; Illust. Hist. San Mateo Co., 4-16; 
San Joaquin Valley Argus, Sept. 12, 1874; C. E. Pickett, in Cal. Chron., 
Jan. 28, 1856; Powers Afoot, 290-2; 8. F. Jour, of Comm., Aug. 30, 1876; 
Hist. Atlas Santa Clara Co., 9-10, 32-34, 77-81, 96-98, 116-26, 174-218, 
244-77, 328-35, 4S4-8, 543-4; Hist. Santa Cruz Co., 7^9; S. Jose- Pioneer, 
Jan. 27, 1877; Jan. 19, 1878; S. F. Picayune, Oct. 12, 1850; S. F. Herald, 
Dec. 31, 1855; 8. F. New Age, June 22, 1867; Quigley s Irish Race, 146; 
Sherman s Mem., i. 40-58; Scala, Nouv. Ann. Voy., cxx. 3(32-5; cxliii. 
245; cxliv. 382-90; cxlvi. 118-21; Saxon s Five Years, passim; Sherwood s 
Cal; Grass Valley Union, Apr. 19, 1870; Simpson s Gold Mines, 4-5, 17; 
Holinski, La Cal., 142-4; Friend (Honolulu), July 1, 1848, Nov. 1, 1848, May 
1, 1849, etc.; Scientific Press, May 11, 1872; Hist. Sonoma Co., passim; Hist. 
Atlas Sonoma Co., passim; Stillman s Golden Fleece, 19-27; Stockton Indep., 
Oct. 9, 1869; Sept. 14, 1872; Oct. 19, 23, 1875; Dec. 6, 1879; Smith s Address 
to Calveston, 14; El Sonorense, May 16, 1849; Clark s Statement, MS.; Hughe* 
Cal., 119; Sutter, in Hutchings Mag., ii. 194-7; Taylor s Eldorado, i. 73; 
Thomas Sprague, in Hutchings Mag., v. 352; Quart. Review, xci. 507-8; 
1350, no. 87, p. 416; Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 17, 1875, May 29, 1880; Hist. 
Tehama Co., 11-15, 53, 109-12; Mex. Mem. Sec. Est. y Rel, 1835, no. 6; 
Mendocino Co. Hist., 52-3; Monterey Herald, Oct. 15, 1875; 8. F. Chron. , 
Jan. 8, Sept. 19, 1880; Simonin, Grand Quest, 286-9; Id., La Vie Souterraine, 
3D9; Merced People, June 8, 1872; McKune, in Cal. Assoc. Pioneer, 1st 
Annual, 42; South. Quart. Rev., viii. 199; S. F. Bulletin, Dec. 6, 1855; Oct. 

2, Dec. 7, 31, 1858; Aug. 13, 1859, etc.; 8. F. Alta Cal., Oct. 15, 1851; May 

3, Nov. 21, 1852; June 29, 1854; Dec. 22, 1855; July 31, 1856; March 28, 
Nov. 11, 1857, etc.; Hist. Atl. Sol. Co., passim; Hist. Solano Co., passim; 
Seattle Intelligencer, June 6, 1874; Hunt s Mer. Mag., xx. 91, 111, 209; xxi. 
567-8; xxii. 226-7, 321; xxiv. 768; xxxiv. 631-2; J. W. Marshall, in Hutch- 
ings Mag., ii. 199-201; Mining Rev., 5; Mining Rev. and Stock Ledger, 1878, 
126; H txt. Sutter Co., 21-2; Hutchings Mag., ii. 196-201; iv. 340; U. 8. Gov. 
Docs, H. Ex. Doc. no. 5, p. 158; no. 17, passim; Mason s Repts, July 19, Aug. 


17, 1848; Uny^ Coll. Mining Cat., i. 1, 50; Id., Coll. Mining Srraps, v. 2, 
3, 17, 175; LI., Colt. Cat. Notes, iii. 7-8; v. 17; Harry s Up arid Down, 92 3; 
Robinson s Ccd. and its Gold Rpyion* t 17-27, 47-8; .Id., Life in Cal. t 190; 
Duflot de Mofras, Expl. Or. et Cal., i. 137; WUkes Narr. U. 8. Ex. Exped., 
v. 181, 190, 195; Daily s Narr., MS., 63; Oslo, Hist. CaL, MS., 506; Biyler a 
Diary of a Mormon, MS., passim; Ifallejo, Docs, MS., i. 140-1, 369-70; xii. 
332; QillfSpie a Vig. Com., MS., passim; Alvarado, Hist. Cal., MS., i. 77; iv. 
161; Slitter s Pers. Hem., MS., passim; Id., Diary, MS., passim; Burnett s 
Recoil. Past, MS. i.-ii. passim; Amador, Memorias, MS., 177-80; Larkin s 
Docs, MS., i. 116; iii. 98; iv. 318; v. 25; vi. passim; vii. 28, 80; Id., Off. 
Corresp. t MS., i. 96; ii. 1^1-41; Carson s Earbj Recoil., passim; Polynesian, 
iv. 114, 137; vt passim; Crosby s Events in CaL, MS., 2, 3, 17-19; Hittell a 
Handbook Mining t passim; Frisbie s Reminiscences, MS., 30-32, 34-36. 





THE full and permanent effects of the California 
gold discovery cannot be estimated. All over the 
world impulse was given to industry, values changed, 
and commerce, social economy, and finance were rev 
olutionized. New enlightenment and new activities 
succeeded these changes, and yet again followed 
higher and broader developments. It was the fore 
runner of like great discoveries of the precious metals 
elsewhere, in Australia, in Nevada and Idaho and 
Montana, in British Columbia and Alaska. There had 
been nothing like it since the inpouring of gold 
and silver to Europe, following the discovery of the 
New World by Columbus. It is not in its fullest, 
broadest sense, however, that the subject is to be 
treated in this chapter. The grand results can only 
be appreciated as we proceed in our history. It is 
rather the reception of the news in the different parts 
of the world, and the immediate action taken upon it, 
that I will now refer to. 

By various ways intelligence of the gold discovery 



travelled abroad. The Mormons carried it over the 
Sierra, scattered it among the westward-bound emi 
grants, and laid it before the people of Salt Lake, 
whence it passed on to the east. Definite notice was 
conveyed overland by the courier despatched specially 
by the people of San Francisco, on the 1st of April, 
1848, to carry letters, and to circulate in the states 
east of the Mississippi the article prepared by Four- 
geaud on the Prospects of California, and printed in 
the California Star of several issues, in order to stim 
ulate emigration. 1 

The first foreign excitement was produced in the 
Hawaiian Islands. With this western ocean rendez 
vous San Francisco merchants had long maintained 
commercial relations, and they now turned thither for 
supplies incident to the increased demand growing out 
of the new development. By the intelligence thus 
conveyed, the hearts and minds of men were kindled 
into a glow such as Kilauea or Manua Haleakala 
never had produced. 2 

1 The recent discovery of Marshall played no part whatever in originating 
the article and the enterprise. A mere allusion was made to the finding of 
gold; and nothing more was thought of it than the known presence of a dozen 
other minerals, nor half so much as of the agricultural and manufacturing 

2 As a forerunner announcing the new Inferno, with two pounds of the 
jnetal as tangible proof, sailed from S. F. May 31st the Hawaiian schooner 
Louise, Menzies master, arriving at Honolulu the 17th of June. In a half- 
column article the editor of the Polynesian, of June 24th, makes known the 
facts as gathered from the California papers, and congratulates Honolulu 
merchants on the prospect of the speedy payment of debts due them by Cal- 
ifornians, probably not less than $150,000. By the store-ship Matilda from 
New York to Honolulu, touching at Valparaiso, Callao, and Monterey, Mr 
Colton writes to Mr Damon, who publishes the letter in the Friend of July, 
with a few editorial comments. Afterward arrived the Spanish brig Flecha, 
Vasquez master, from Santa Barbara, the Hawaiian brig Euphemia, Vioget 
master, from S. F., and others. The Hawaiian schooner Mary, Belcham 
master, though sailing from S. F. before the Louise, did not arrive at Hono 
lulu until the 19th. Ib., The Friend, July 1848. In its issue of July 8th, the 
Polynesian speaks of the rising excitement and the issuing of passports, 
except to absconding debtors, by the minister of foreign relations to those 
wishing to depart. The fever rages high here, writes Samuel Varney, the 
15th of -July, to Larkin, and there is much preparation made for emigration. 
L( ckin s Doc*, MS., vi. 145. The file of the Polynesian runs on as fol 
lows: July 15th, one crowded vessel departed the llth, and half a dozen 
others are making ready; 24 persons give notice of their intention to depart 
thiy kingdom; 2JO will probably leave within two months if passage can 
be procured. Aug. 5th, 69 passports have been granted, and as many 


Before it could scale the northern mountains the 
news swept round to Oregon by way of Honolulu, 
and was thence conveyed by the Hudson s Bay people 
to Victoria and other posts in British Columbia, to 
forts Nisqually and Vancouver, reaching Oregon City 
early in August. 3 The first doubts were dissipated by 
increased light upon the subject, and streams of popu 
lation set southward, both by land -and water, until 
more than half of Oregon s strength and sinew was 
emptied into California. 4 

more have left without passports. Aug. 26th, three vessels sailed within a 
week; one man set out in a whale-boat. Sept. 23d, excitement increases. A 
vessel advertises to sail, and immediately every berth is secured. Sept 30th, 
real estate a drug in the market. Business low; whole country changed. 
Books at an auction will not sell; shovels fetch high prices. Common saluta 
tion, When are you off? Oct. 7th, the Lahaimci sails with 40 passengers. 
Honolulu to sail the 9th, and every berth engaged. Heavy freight $40 per 
ton; cabin passage $100, steerage $80, deck $40. Oct. 21st, 27 vessels, ag 
gregating a tonnage of 3,128, have left Honolulu since the gold discovery, 
carrying 300 Europeans, besides many natives. The Islands suffer in conse 
quence. Oct. 28th, natives returning, some with $500. Five vessels to sail 
with 15 to 40 passengers each. The Sandwich Island News of Aug. 17th 
states that upward of 1,000 pickaxes had been exported from Honolulu. The 
excitement continued in 1849, when, according to Placer Times, June 2, 1849, 
nine schooners and brigs, and a score of smaller craft, were fitting out for 
Cal. The Friend, vii. 21, viii. 23, speaks of more than one party of sailors 
absconding in small craft. 

3 In the Willamette about that time, loading with flour, was a S. F. vessel, 
the Honolulu, whose master knew of it, but kept it to himself until his cargo 
was secured. In searching the files current of the Hawaiian journals, I find 
among the departures for the north the following: June 8th, the American brig 
Eveline, Goodwin master, for Oregon, too early for definite information; June 
20th, Russian bark Prince Menshikoff, Lindenberg, for Sitka; July 5th, Ameri 
can bark Mary, Knox master, for Kamchatka; and July 15th, H. B. M. brig 
Pandora, destination unknown, and English brig Mary Dare, Scarborough 
master, for the Columbia River. It was undoubtedly by this ship that the 
news was brought, and the fact of her clearance for the Columbia River did 
not prevent her first visiting Kisqually. Mr Burnett is probably mistaken 
in saying that he heard of it in July; as that, according to his own statement, 
would allow but a fortnight for the transmission of the news from the Islands 
to the Willamette River not impossible, but highly improbable. See Hist. 
Oregon, vol. i. chap, xxxiv., this series; Crawford s Nar., MS., 166; Victor s 
River of the West, 483-5; Californian, Sept. 2, 1848. 

4 Estimated white population of Oregon, midsummer, 1848, 10,000. I 
think that at least two thirds of the population of Oregon capable of bearing 
arms left for Cal. in the summer and fall of 1848. Burnett s Rec., MS., i. 325. 
A letter from L. W. Boggs to his brother-in-law, Boon, in Oregon, carried 
weight and determined many. By the end of the year, says the Oregon Spec 
tator, almost the entire male and a part of the female population of Oregon 
has gone gold-digging in California. Gov. Abernethy, writing to Col. Ma 
son Sept. 18th, said that not less than 3,000 men had left the Willamette 
Valley for Cal. Arch. Cal., Unbound Docs, MS., 141. Star and CaL, Dec. 9, 
1848, assumes that about 2,000 arrived in 1848. One of the first parties to 
set out the first, indeed with vehicles, and preceded only by smaller com- 


Mexico, particularly in her northern part, though 
crushed by the late war, still shared the distemper. 
"The mania that pervades the whole country, our 
camp included/ writes an army officer, "is beyond 
all description or credulity. The whole state of So- 
nora is on the move, large parties are passing us in 
gangs daily, and say they have not yet started." 
Indeed, but for national indolence and intervening 
deserts, the movement might have far surpassed the 
4,000 which left before the spring of 1849. 6 

panics with pack-animals consisted of 150 men, with 50 wagons and ox-teams, 
a supply of provisions for six months, and a full assortment of tools and im 
plements. This expedition was organized at Oregon City, early in Sept., by 
Peter H. Burnett, afterward gov. of Cal. It followed the Applegate route 
eastward toward Klamath Lake, thence along Lassen s trail from Pit River, 
entering the Sac. Valley near the mouth of Feather River, and reaching the 
mines in Nov. This was the general direction; though as usual on such occa 
sions, the party differed in opinion as to the route to be followed, and divided 
before the end of their journey. Burnett, Recollections, MS., i. 323-70, gives 
a detailed account of the trip. Gen. Palmer, Wagon Trains, MS., 43, and 
A. L. Lovejoy, Portland, MS., 27-8, who were also prominent members of 
the expedition, give briefer narratives. The points of difference are, that 
according to Burnett the expedition was organized in the beginning of Sept. 
and struck south at Klamath Lake, while Palmer says that, starting in July, 
the party reached Goose Lake before a southern course was taken. One 
family accompanied the train. Tom. McKay acted as guide. Barnes* Or. 
and Cal., MS., 11. Another large party left Oregon City in Sept. on board 
the brig Henry, and reached S. F. the same month, consequently in advance 
of the land expedition. Taylors Oregonians, MS., 1-2. Both of these early 
companies were soon followed by others. In 1848 [the month is not given], 
the mining engineer in the Russian Colony, Doroshin, was sent to Cal. with 
a number of men to open a gold mine, if possible, in the placer regions. In 
three months he obtained 12 Ibs, but did not continue the work, as he feared 
that his men would run away. Oolovnin, Voyage, in Materialln, pt ii. Doug 
las was on board the Mary Dare, the vessel which brought the information 
from the Island, but gave it little attention until he saw the people of the 
north rapidly sinking southward, when he began to fear for his men. Some 
of them did leave, but the Hudson s Bay Company was a difficult association 
to get away from. Finlayson, Hist. V. I., MS., 30, 44, tells the oft-repeated 
story of deserted vessels^ and other abandonment of duty, which forced him 
to draw for seamen and laborers more largely on the natives. Anderson, 
Northwest Coast, MS., 27, 37, first saw an account of the discovery in a pri 
vate letter to Mr Douglas, who had just returned from a trip to the Sandwich 

b Coutts* Diary, MS., 113. And the captain goes on to say, in a strain ob 
viously exaggerated: Naked and shirt-tailed Indians and Mexicans, or Cal 
if ornians, go and return in 15 or 20 days with over a pound of pure gold each 
per day, and say they had bad luck and left. Velasco, Son., 289-91, writes, 
Sin temor de equivocacion, 5,000 or 6,000 persons left Sonora between Oct. 
1848 and March 1849. Yet he reduces this to 4,000, whereof one third re 
mained in Cal. In Sonorense, Mar. 2, 23, 28, 30, Apr. 18, May 11, the exodus 
for Jan. to Feb. 1849 is placed at 1,000, and 700 were expected to pass 
through from other states. During the spring of 1850, 5,893 left, taking 
14,000 animals. Id., Apr. 26, 1850. Up to Nov. 1849 over 4,000 left. Pinart^ 


The news wafted across the continent upon the 
tongues of devout Mormons, and by the Fourgeaud 
messenger, was quickly followed by confirmatory ver 
sions in letters, and by travellers and government 
couriers. 6 The first official notice of the discovery 
was sent by Larkin on June 1st, and received at 
Washington in the middle of September. 7 At the 
same time further despatches, dated a month later, 
were brought in by Lieutenant Beale via Mexico. 8 

Some of these appeared in the New York Herald 
and other journals, together with other less author 
itative statements; but the first to create general 
attention was an article in the Baltimore Sun of Sep 
tember 20th; after which all the editors vied with 
each other in distributing the news, exaggerated and 
garnished according to their respective fancies and 
love of the marvellous. 9 Such cumulative accounts, 

Coll., MS., iv. 174, no. 1035; U. S. Oov. Docs, 31st cong. 2d sess., H. Ex. 
Doc. i., pt ii. 77. Diary of two parties, in Soc. Mex. Geog., BoL, xi. 126-34; 
Hayes Diary, MS., 1-7, 82-100. Gov. Gandara sought in vain to check the 
exodus by warning the people that Mexicans were maletreated in Cal. , etc., Feb. 2, 21, Oct. 26, 1849. A letter from San Jose", Lower Cal., 
tells of closed houses and families consisting only of women and children. 
The first caravan left in Oct. Many went by sea. 

6 There was a Mr Gray from Virginia at Sutter s Fort, the 16th of April, 
1848, who had purchased for himself and associates a silver mine in the San 
Jose Valley. Sutter presented to him specimens of the gold, with which he 
started eastward across the mountains. So Sntter enters in his diary. 
Rogers begins a letter to Larkin Sept. 14th, Since I wrote you by the gov 
ernment messenger, and in duplicate by the Isthmus which shows how 
letters were then sent. Larkin s Docs, MS., vi. 177. No mention is herein 
made of the receipt of the intelligence of the gold discovery. Sherman, 
Mem., i. 47, gives no date when he says of Kit Carson, who had carried 
occasional mails, He remained at Los Angeles some months, and was then 
sent back to the U. S. with despatches. 

7 Larkin s Docs, MS., vi. 185. This letter of Larkin, Childs, through 
whom his correspondence passed, answered the 27th of Sept., sending his 
reply by Mr Parrott, by way of Vera Cruz and Mazatlan. 

8 He had left Monterey about July 1st for La Paz in the flag-ship Ohio, 
carrying letters from Larkin of June 28th and July 1st to Buchanan and 
Com. Jones, the latter sending his on to the sec. of the navy with a note of 
July 28th. All these letters were printed by government, and accompanied 
the president s message of Dec. 5th. I have referred elsewhere to the over 
land express which was despatched by way of Salt Lake in April 1848, chiefly 
for carrying a newspaper edition on the resources of California. G. M. 
Evans erroneous account of this mail in the Oregon Bulletin has been widely 
copied. Instance the Mendocino Democrat, Feb. 1, 1872, and the Lake 
County Bee, March 8, 1873. Crosby s Events in Cal, MS., 2-3. 

The N. Y. Journal of Commerce some time after published a communi 
cation dated Monterey 29th of August, characteristic of the reports which 


reechoed throughout the country, could not fail in 
their effect; and when in the midst of the growing 
excitement, in November or December, one more 
special messenger arrived, in the person of Lieuten 
ant Loeser, with official confirmation from Governor 
Mason, embodied in the president s message of De 
cember 5th to congress, and with tangible evidence in 
the shape of a box filled with gold-dust, placed on 
exhibition at the war office, delirium seized upon the 
community. 10 

now began to circulate. At present, the writer remarks, speaking of gold- 
finding in California, the people are running over the country and picking it 
out of the earth here and there, just as 1,000 hogs, let loose in a forest, would 
root up ground-nuts. Some get eight or ten ounces a day, and the least active 
one or two. They make the most who employ the wild Indians to hunt it for 
them. There is one man who has sixty Indians in his employ; his profits are 
a dollar a minute. The wild Indians know nothing of its value, and wonder 
what the pale-faces want to do with it; they will give an ounce of it for the 
same weight of coined silver, or a thimbleful of glass beads, or a glass of 
grog. And white men themselves often give an ounce of it, which is worth 
at our mint $18 or more, for a bottle of brandy, a bottle of soda powders, or 
a plug of tobacco. As to the quantity which the diggers get, take a few 
facts as evidence. I know seven men who worked seven weeks and two days, 
Sundays excepted, on Feather River; they employed on an average fifty 
Indians, and got out in these seven weeks and two days 275 pounds of pure 

C 1 1. I know the men, and have seen the gold; so stick a pin there. I 
w ten other men who worked ten days in company, employed no Indians, 
and averaged in these ten days $1,500 each; so stick another pin there. I 
know another man who got out of a basin in a rock, not larger than a wash 
bowl, 2 pounds of gold in fifteen minutes; so stick another pin there! No 
one of these statements would I believe, did I not know the men personally, 
and know them to be plain, matter-of-fact men men who open a vein of gold 
just as coolly as you would a potato-hill. Your letter and those of others, 
writes Childs from Washington, Sept. 27th, to Larkin, have been running 
through the papers all over the country, creating wonder and amazement in 
every mind. Larkin s Docs, MS., vi. 185. 

L. Loeser, lieutenant third artillery, was chosen to carry the report of 
Mason s own observations, conveyed in a letter dated Aug. 17th, together 
with specimens of gold-dust purchased at $10 an ounce by the quartermaster 
under sanction of the acting governor, with money from the civil fund. 
Sherman, Mem., i. 58, says an oyster-can full; Mason, Reveres Tour, 242, 
a tea-caddy containing 230 oz., 15 dwts, 9 gr. of gold. Small chest called 
a caddy, containing about $3,000 worth of gold in lumps and scales, says the 
Washington Union, after inspection. Niks Reg., Ixxiv. 336. To Payta, Peru, 
the messenger proceeded in the ship Lambayecana, chartered for the purpose 
from its master and owner, Henry D. Cooke, since governor of the district of 
Columbia and sailing from Monterey the 30th of Aug. At Payta, Loeser took 
the English steamer to Panama, crossed the Isthmus in Oct., proceeded to 
Kingston, Jamaica, and thence by sailing vessel to New Orleans, where he tele 
graphed his arrival to the war department. On the 24th of November, about 
which time he reached N. 0., the Commercial Times of that city semi-offi- 
cially confirmed the rumors, claiming to have done so on the authority of 
Loeser. S. H. Willey, Personal Memoranda, MS., 20-1, a passenger by the 
falcon, thinks it was on Friday, Dec. 14th, that he first heard the news, and 


The report of Colonel Mason, as indorsed by the 
president, was published, either at length or in sub 
stance, in the principal newspapers throughout the 
world. 11 From this time the interest in California 
and her gold became all-absorbing, creating a rest 
lessness which finally poured a human tide into San 
Francisco Bay, and sent hundreds of caravans over 
the plains and mountains. 

The political condition gave impulse to the move 
ment, for men s minds were unsettled everywhere: in 

that Loeser was there at the time. I saw Lieut Loeser, he says, and the 
gold nuggets in his hand. This is the time the Falcon was at N. 0. And 
yet the president s message accompanied by Mason s report is dated Dec. 5th. 
Obviously Willey is mistaken in supposing Loeser to have arrived at N. O. 
after the Falcon s arrival; and to reconcile his statement at all, we must hold 
the messenger at N. 0. exhibiting his gold nuggets on the streets for three 
weeks after his arrival, and for ten days after the information brought by him 
is sent by the president to congress. The report of Mason accompanying the 
president s message is given in U. S. Gov. Docs, 30th cong. 2d sess., H. Ex. 
Doc. 1, no. 37, 56-64. The president says: It was known that mines of the 
precious metals existed to a considerable extent in Cal. at the time of its 
acquisition. Recent discoveries render it probable that these mines are more 
extensive and valuable than was anticipated. The accounts of the abundance 
of gold in that territory are of such an extraordinary character as would 
scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by the authentic reports 
of officers in the public service, who have visited the mineral district, and 
derived the facts which they detail from personal observation. Sherman, 
Mr m. , i. 58, consequently errs in assuming that the report did not arrive in 
time for the message. 

11 We readily admit, says the Washington Union the day after Loeser s 
arrival, that the account so nearly approached the miraculous that we were 
relieved by the evidence of our own senses on the subject. The specimens 
have all the appearance of the native gold we had seen from the mines of 
North Carolina and Virginia; and we are informed that the secretary will 
send the small chest of gold to the mint, to be melted into coin and bars, and 
most of it to be subsequently fashioned into medals commemorative of the 
heroism and valor of our officers. Several of the other specimens he will re 
tain for the present in the war office as found in Cal. , in the form of lumps, 
scales, and sand; the last named being of different hues, from bright yellow 
to black, without much appearance of gold. However sceptical any man may 
have been, we defy him to doubt that if the quantity of such specimens as 
these be as great as has been represented, the value of the gold in Cal. must 
be greater than has been hitherto discovered in the old or new continent; 
and great as may be the emigration to this new El Dorado, the frugal and 
industrious will be amply repaid for their enterprise and toil. On the 8th 
of Dec., David Garter, from 8. F., took to the Phil, mint the first deposit of 
gold, on which Director Patterson reported that it was worth some cents 
over $18 an ounce. Assays of specimens sent to private persons gave similar 
results. Sherwood s Cal.; Pioneer Arch., 161-7; Brooks His. Mcx. War, 535. 
Garter s deposit in the Phil, mint was made the 8th of Dec., and that of the 
sec. of war on the 9th. The former consisted of 1,804.59 ounces, and the latter 
of 228 ounces. It averaged .894 fine. Letter of Patterson to Walker, Dec. 
11, 1848. 


Europe by wars and revolutions, which disturbed all the 
regions from the Sicilies in the south to Ireland and 
Denmark in the north ; in the United States, by the late 
war with Mexico, and the consequent acquisition of im 
mense vacant and inviting territories. This especially 
had given zest to the spirit of adventure so long fos 
tered in the States by the constant westward advance 
of settlements; and the news from the Pacific served 
really to intensify the feeling and give it a definite and 
common direction. The country was moreover in a 
highly prosperous condition, with an abundance of 
money, which had attracted a large immigration, and 
disbanded armies from Mexico had cast adrift a host 
of men without fixed aim, to whom a far less potent 
incentive than the present would have been all-suffi 
cient. And so from Maine to Texas the noise of 
preparation for travel was heard in every town. The 
name of California was in every mouth; it was the 
current theme for conversation and song, for plays 
and sermons. Every scrap of information concerning 
the country was eagerly devoured. Old works that 
touched upon it, or even upon the regions adjoining, 
were dragged from dusty hiding-places, and eager 
purchase made of guide-books from the busy pen of 
cabinet travellers. 12 Old, staid, conservative men and 

12 Among the publications of the hour were: California, and the, Way to 
Get there; with the Official Documents Relating to the Gold Region. By J. 
Ely Sherwood, New York, 1848. This for the outside title. The second title 
says California, her Wealth and Resources; with Many Interesting Facts 
respecting the Climate and People. Following a letter dated Sutter s Fort, 
Aug. 11, 1848, giving the expei iences of a digger, are a few pages smattering 
of Mexican life. Then come Larkin s letters to Buchanan, and Mason s 
report, everywhere printed. All that portion of the president s message 
iext given; after which we have a Description 

which relates to California is next given; 

of the Gold Region, in which there is no description whatever, a letter of 
Walter Colton, extracts from the N. Y. Journal of Commerce and Sun, fur 
ther correspondence and description, and the memorial of Aspinwall, Stephens, 
and Chauncey to congress on a proposed Pacific railway. On the last page of 
the cover are printed from the N. Y. Herald Practical Suggestions to Persons 
about to Cross the Isthmus of Panama. The whole comprises an 8vo pam 

phlet of 40 pages, exclusive of the cover. The following year the work assumes 
a 12mo form of 98 pages in a paper cover, and is called The Pock t-Gidde to 
California; A Sea and Land Route- Book, Containing a Futi Description of the 
EL Dorado, its Agricultural Resources, Commercial Advantages, and Mineral 
Wealth; including a Chapter on Gold Formations; with the Congr?x*ional Map, 
and the Various Routes and Distances to the Gold Regions. To Which is Added 


women caught the infection, despite press and pulpit 
warnings. After a parting knell of exhortation for 
calm and contentment, even ministers and editors 
shelved their books and papers to join foremost in 
the throng. Hitherto small though sure profits 
dwindled into insignificance under the new aspect, and 
the trader closed his ledger to depart ; and so the toil 
ing farmer, whose mortgage loomed above the grow 
ing family, the briefless lawyer, the starving student, 
the quack, the idler, the harlot, the gambler, the hen 
pecked husband, the disgraced; with many earnest, 
enterprising, honest men and devoted women. These 
and others turned their faces westward, resolved to 
stake their all upon a cast; their swift thoughts, like 
the arrow of Acestes, taking fire as they flew. Stories 
exaggerated by inflamed imaginations broke the calm 
of a million hearts, and tore families asunder, leaving 

Practical Advice to Voyagers. New York, J. E. Sherwood, publisher and 
proprietor; California, Berford & Co., and C. W. Holden, San Francisco, 1849. 
This is a work of more pretensions than the first edition. The first 19 pages 
are geographical, in the compilation of which Bryant and others are freely 
drawn from. Letters from Folsom to Quartermaster Jesup, printed originally 
in the Washington Globe, are added. Thirty-one pages of advertisements were 
secured, which are at once characteristic and interesting, The Union India 
Rubber Company, beside portable boats and wagou-floats, offers tents, blank 
ets, and all kinds of clothing. Californians are urged to insure their lives and 
have their daguerreotypes taken before starting. Then there are Californian 
houses, sheet-iron cottages of the most substantial character, at three days 
notice, built in sections; oil-cloth roofs at thirty cents per square yard; 
bags, matches, boots, drugs, guns, beside outfits comprising every conceiv 
able thing to wear, iness hampers, and provisions. Haven & Livingston 
advertise their express, Thomas Kensett & Co., and Wells, Miller, & Provost, 
their preserved fresh provisions; E. N. Kent, tests for gold; half a dozen 
their gold washers, and fifty others fifty other things. By advertising U. S. 
passports, Alfred "Wheeler intimates that they are necessary. A. Zuru- 
atuza, through his agents, John Bell at Vera Cruz and A. Patrullo, New York, 
gives notice of the pleasan test and shortest route to California through Mex 
ico. With neither author s name nor date, but probably in Dec. 1848, was 
issued at Boston, California Gold Regions, With a Fidl Account of its Mineral 
Resources; How to Get there and What to Take; the Expense, the Time, and the 
Various Routes, etc. Anything at hand, printed letters, newspaper articles, 
and compilations from old books, were thrown in to make up the 48 pages of 
this publication. Yet another book appeared in Dec. 1848, The Gold Regions 
of California, etc., edited by G. G. Foster, 80 pages, 8vo, with a map; the 
fullest and most valuable eastern publication on Cal. of that year. Beside 
the official reports so often referred to, there is a letter from A. Ten Eyck, 
dated S. F., Sept. 1st, and one from C. Allyn dated Monterey, Sept. loth. 
Thereare also extracts from Cal. and eastern newspapers, and from Greenhow, 
Darby, Wilkes, Cutts, Mofras, Emory, and Farnham. 


sorrowing mothers, pining wives, neglected children, 
with poverty and sorrow to swell their anguish; the 
departed meanwhile bent on the struggle with fortune, 
faithful or faithless; a few to be successful, but a far 
greater number to sink disappointed into nameless 

And still the gossips and the prophets raved, and 
newspapers talked loudly and learnedly of California 
and her gold-fields, assisting to sustain the excite 
ment. 13 It is no exaggeration to say that, in the 
great seaport towns at least, the course of ordinary 
business was almost thrown out of its channels. 
"Bakers keep their ovens hot," breaks forth Greeley, 
"night and day, turning out immense quantities of 
ship-bread without supplying the demand; the pro 
vision stores of all kinds are besieged by orders. 
Manufacturers of rubber goods, rifles, pistols, bowie- 
knives, etc., can scarcely supply the demand." All 
sorts of labor-saving machines were invented to facil 
itate the separation of the gold from gravel and soil. 
Patented machines, cranks, pumps, overshot wheel 
attachments, engines, dredges for river-beds, supposed 
to be full of gold, and even diving-bells, were made 
and sold. Everything needful in the land of gold, or 

/ O O * 

what sellers could make the buyers believe would be 
needed, sold freely at high prices. Everything in the 
shape of hull and masts was overhauled and made 
ready for sea. Steamships, clippers, schooners, and 
brigs sprang from the stocks as if by the magician s 
wand, and the wharves were alive with busy workers. 
The streets were thronged with hurrying, bustling pur 
chasers, most of them conspicuous in travelling attire 
of significant aspect, rough loose coats and blanket 
robes meeting high hunting-boots, and shaded by 
huge felt hats of sombre color. A large proportion 

13 It is coming nay, at hand, cried Horace Greeley, in the N. Y. Tribune; 
there is no doubt of it. We are on the brink of the Age of Gold! We look 
for an addition, within the next four years, equal to at least one thousand 
millions of dollars to the general aggregate of gold iu circulation and use 
throughout the world. This is almost inevitable. 


bore the stamp of countrymen or villagers, who had 
formed parties of from ten to over a hundred members, 
the better to face the perils magnified by distance, arid 
to assist one another in the common object. The im 
mediate purpose, however, was to combine for the 
purchase of machinery and outfit, and for reduced 
passage rates. Indeed, the greater part of the emi 
grants were in associations, limited in number by 
district clanship, or by shares ranging as high as 
$1,000 each, which in such a case implied the purchase 
of the vessel, laden with wooden houses in sections, 
with mills and other machinery, and with goods for 
trade. 1 * In some instances the outfit was provided by 
a few men; perhaps a family stinted itself to send one 
of its members, often a scapegrace resolved upon a 
new life; or money was contributed by more cautious 
stayers-at-home for proxies, on condition of heavy re 
payment, or labor, or shares in profits; 15 but as a rule, 
obligations broke under the strain of varied attractions 
on the scene, and debtors were lost in the throng of 
the mines. 16 The associations were too unwieldy and 

14 Among the many instances of such associations is the one entitled Ken- 
nebec Trading and Mining Co., which sailed in the Obed Mitchel from N. 
Bedford on March 31, 1849, arrived at S. F. on Sept. 17th, laid out the town 
of New York, placed the steamer Gov. Dana for river traffic, opened a saw 
mill, etc. Boynton s MS., 1 et seq. The Mattapan and Cal. Trading and 
Mining Co., of 42 members, left Boston in the Ann. Strout s recollections, in 
S. F. Post, July 14, 1877; the Linda Mining and Dredging Assoc. started in 
the bark Linda, with a steamboat and a dredger, the latter for scooping up 
the metal. Other notable companies were those by the Edward Everett, of 
152 members, which left Boston in Dec. 1848; Robert Browne, which left New- 
York in Feb. 49, with 200 passengers; the Matthewson party, from New 
York, in March; the Warren party of 30 members, from New York, in Feb.; 
the Mary Jane party. One party of seven left Nantucket in Dec. 1 849, in 
the Mary and Emma, of only 44 tons, and arrived safely after 149 days. 
Others were known by the names of the town or county in which they organ 
ized, as Utica, Albany, Buffalo. See details of outfit, passage, etc., in War 
ren s Dust and Foam, 12 et seq.; Matthewsorfs Statement, MS., 1-3; Cerruti s 
Ramblings, MS., 94, and later MS. references; also recollections printed in 
different journals, as San Jos6 Pioneer, Dec. 8, 1877, etc.; Sac. Record- Union, 
July 7, 1875, Nov. 26, 1878, etc.; Shasta Courier, March 25, 1865, March 16, 
1867; Stockton Indep., Nov. 1, 1873; Alta Cal., passim; Placer Times, Apr. 
28, 1849; Brown s Statement, MS., 1; Hunt s Merch. Mag., xxx. 55-64, xxxii. 
354-5; Larkirfs Doc., vi. 185, 198, etc. 

15 Crosby, Events Cal., MS., 26, was deputed by others to report on the 

16 Large sums were recklessly advanced to individuals as well as societies 
by rich men, stricken by the fever, but declining to go in person. Probably 


too hastily organized, with little knowledge of mem 
bers and requirements, the best men being most eager 
to escape the yoke. 

The overland route was the first to suggest itself, 
in accordance with American pioneer usage, but this 
could not be attempted during winter. The sea was 
always open, and presented, moreover, a presumably 
swifter course, with less preparations for outfit. The 
way round Cape Horn was well understood by the 
coast-dwellers, who formed the pioneers in this move- 
merit, familiar as they were with the trading vessels 
and whalers following that circuit, along the path 
opened by Magellan, and linked to the explorations of 
Cortes and Cabrillo. There were also the short-cuts 
across Panamd, Nicaragua, and Mexico, now becoming 
familiar to the people of the United States through 
the agitation for easy access to the newly acquired 
possessions on the Pacific. For all these vessels 
offered themselves; and in November 1848 the move 
ment began with the departure of several vessels. In 
December it had attained tho dimensions of a rush. 
From New York, Boston, Salem, Norfolk, Philadel 
phia, and Baltimore, between the 14th of December, 
1848, and the 18th of January, 1849, departed 61 
sailing vessels, averaging 50 passengers each, to say 
nothing of those sent from Charleston, New Orleans, 
and other ports. Sixty ships were announced to sail 
from New York in the month of February 1849, 70 
from Philadelphia and Boston, and 11 from New Bed 
ford. The hegira continued throughout the } r ear, and 
during the winter of 1849 and the spring of 1850 

nine out of ten of such loans were lost, less through actual dishonesty than 
through the extravagant habits among miners, who improvidently reckoned 
on a future rich find for such demands. Few of the companies held together, 
even till Cal. was reached; none that I have ever heard of accomplished any 
thing, as an original body, in the mines or towns. If they did not quarrel on 
the way and separate at any cost, as was generally the case, they found on 
reaching Cal. that a company had no place there. Every miner was for him 
self, and so it was with mechanics and laborers, who, if willing to work for 
wages, received such dazzling offers as to upset all previous calculations and 
indents. See Ashley s Journey, MS., 223, etc. 


250 vessels sailed for California from the eastern ports 
of the United States alone, 45 of which arrived at San 
Francisco in one day. 17 

In order to supply this demand, shipping was di 
verted from every other branch of service, greatly to 
the disarrangement of trade, the whaling business 
especially being neglected for the new catch. 18 Old 
condemned hulks were once more drawn from their re 
tirement, anything, in fact, that could float, 19 and fitted 
with temporary decks to contain tiers of open berths, 
with tables and luggage-stands in the centre. 20 The 
provisions were equally bad, leading in many cases to 
intense suffering and loss by scurvy, 21 thirst, and 
starvation; but unscrupulous speculators cared for 
nothing save to reap the ready harvest; and to secure 
passengers they hesitated at no falsehood. Although 
aware that the prospect of obtaining transportation 
from Panamd and other Pacific ports was very doubt 
ful, they gave freely the assurance of ample connec 
tions, and induced thousands to proceed to these half- 

17 Nouvelles Annales des Voyages, cxx. 362-5; Larkin s Docs, MS., vi. 195; 
Polynesian, Apr. 14, 1849; Sttilman a Golden Fleece, 19-27. Two of the Nov. 
departures arrived at S. F. in April 1849; in June came 11, in July 40, in 
August 43, in Sept. 66, after which the number fell off, giving a total of 233 
from American ports for nine months; 316 arrived from other ports, or 549 in 
all. Placer Times, ii. no. 62; N. Y. Herald, Apr. 13, 1850; Barstow s Stat., 
MS., 1; Barnes* Or. and CaL, MS., 20; Dean s Stat., MS., 1; Moore s Pio. 
Exp., MS., 1; Winans Stat., MS., 1-3; Neall s Stat., MS.; Wheatoris Stat., 
MS., 2-3; Doolittle s Stat., MS., 21; Boltonvs U. S., 88; Fay s Stat., MS., 1; 
Picture Pion. Times, MS., 145-7. The journals above quoted, notably Alto, 
Gal. and Record-Union; also West Coast Signal, Apr. 15, 1874; Santa Cruz 
Times, Feb. 19, 1870; Humboldt Times, Mar. 7, 1874; Antioch Ledger, Dec. 
24, 1870, together with allusions to voyage. The length of passage averaged 
about four months. Later it was made more than once by the Flying Cloud 
from New York in 89 days. See Alta Col., July 12, 1865; S. F. Directory, 
1852, 10, etc. 

18 By the withdrawal of 71 ships. Alta CaL, June 6, 1850. 

19 Barnes, in his Or. and CaL, MS., mentions an old Mexican war trans 
port steamer, which in the winter of 1849-50 used to ply between New Orleans 
and Chagres, and which was so rotten and leaky that she wriggled and twisted 
like a willow basket. 

Borthwick s MS., 3-5. One vessel of only 44 tons left Nantucket; 
another passed through the lakes, Hunt s Mag., xxi. 585; a third was an ex- 
slaver., Bluxomz s MS., 1. 

21 Ryan, Pers. Adven., ii. 273-5, relates that the Brooklyn set out with an 
insufficient supply, and although offered $500, the captain refused to touch at 
any of the South American ports for additions. At Rio de Janeiro several 
received welcome from Dom Pedro. Alta CaL, Mar. 29, 1876. 


way stations, only to leave them there stranded. A 
brief period of futile waiting sufficed to exhaust the 
slender means of many, cutting off even retreat, and 
hundreds were swept away by the deadly climate. 22 
Expostulations met with sneers or maltreatment, for 
redress was hopeless. The victims were ready enough 
to enter the trap, and hastened away by the cheapest 
route, regardless of money or other means to proceed 
farther, trusting blindly, wildly, to chance. 

The cost of passage served to restrict the propor 
tion of the vagabond element; so that the majority of 
the emigrants belonged to the respectable class, with 
a sprinkle of educated and professional men, and mem 
bers of influential families, although embracing many 
characterless persons who fell before temptation, or 
entered the pool of schemers and political vultures. 23 
The distance and the prospective toil and danger 
again held back the older and less robust, singling 
out the young and hardy, so that in many respects the 
flower of the population departed. The intention of 
most being to return, few women were exposed to the 
hardships of these early voyages. The coast-dwellers 
predominated, influenced, as may be supposed, by the 
water voyage, for the interior and western people 
preferred to await the opening of the overland route, 
for which they could so much better provide them 
selves. 24 

Although the Americans maintained the ascend 
ancy in numbers, owing to readier access to the field 

22 See protest in Panamd Star, Feb. 24, 1849. 

23 White, Pion. Times, MS., 190-5, estimates the idle loungers at less than 
ten per cent, and gentlemen and politicians at the same proportion. The 
N. Y. Tribune, Jan. 26, 1849, assumes that the cost of outfit kept back the 
rowdies. The Annals of S. F., 665, etc., is undoubtedly wrong in ascribing 
low character, morals, and standing to a large" proportion, although it is natural 
that men left without the elevating influence of a sufficiently large number of 
women should have yielded at times to a somewhat reckless life. Willey, in 
his Per. Mem., MS., 25, thus speaks of the New Orleans emigration of 1848: 
It was only the class most loose of foot who could leave on so short a notice. 
It was largely such as frequented the gambling-saloons under the St Charles, 
and could leave one day as well as another. See also Crosby * Event*, MS., 
2-3; Van Allen, Stat., MS., 31; Larking Doc., MS., vi. 185, 198, 251. 

24 New Yorkers predominated twice told probably. Ryckman s MS ., 20; 
Nantucket alone lost about 400 men. Placer Times, Dec. 1, 1849. 


by different routes, and to which they were entitled 
by right of possession, the stream of migration from 
foreign countries was great, a current coming to 
New York and adjoining ports to join the flow from 
there. The governments of Europe became alarmed, 
actuated as they were by jealousy of the growing 
republic, with its prospective increase of wealth, to the 
confounding of finance, perhaps to culminate in a 
world s crisis. 25 Before the middle of January 1849 no 
less than five different Californian trading and mining 
companies were registered at London, with an aggre 
gate capital of 1,275,000; and scarcely was there 
a European port which had not at this time some 
vessel fitting out for California. 26 

Among Asiatic nations, the most severely affected 
by this western malady were the Chinese. With so 
much of the gambling element in their disposition, so 
much of ambition, they turned over the tidings in 
their minds with feverish impatience, whilst their 
neighbors, the Japanese, heard of the gold discovery 
with stolid indifference. 27 Yet farther east by way 
of west, to that paradise of gamblers, Manila, went 

25 Russia, France, and Holland seriously considered the monetary question, 
and the latter went so far as to bring in force an obsolete law, which enabled 
her to sell, at the highest price, all the gold in the bank of Amsterdam, so 
that she might lay in a stock of silver. 

26 Du Havre et de Bordeaux, de plusieurs ports espagnols, hollandais, 
allemands, et de presque tous les principaux ports de la Grande-Bretagne, on 
announce des departs pour San Francisco. Un batiment a vapeur doit meme 
partir de Londres et doubler le cap Horn. Revue des Deux Monde*, Feb. 1, 
1849; Polynesian, May 12, 1849. Says the London Times: Thereare at this 
moment two great waves of population following toward the setting sun over 
this globe. The one is that mighty tide of human beings which, this year, be 
yond all former parallel, is flowing from Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, and 
some other parts of Europe, in one compact and unbroken stream, to the United 
States. The other, which may almost be described as urged on by the former, is 
that which that furious impulse aurl sacra f amen is attracting from comfortable 
homes to an almost desert shore. Several hundred Mormons left Swansea 
in Feb. 1849 for Cal. Placer Times, Oct. 13, 1849. Concerning the French 
migration, see 8. F. Picayune, Nov. 27, 1850; Cal. Courier, Nov. 28, Dec. 3, 
1850. Many banished army officers came. Hungarian exiles in Iowa pro 
posed to come in 1850. 8. D. Arch., 367; Polynesian, vii. 131. 

27 An English steamer arrived from Canton direct as early as Oct. 1849. 
On Feb. 1, 1849, there were 54 Chinamen in Cal., and by Jan. 1, 1850, the 
number had swollen to 791, and was rapidly rising, till it passed 4,000 by the 
end of 1850. Alia Cal., May 10, 1852; William* Stat., 12. In BrookJ App. 
.y 115, the number for 1849-50 is reduced to 770 by their consul. 


the news, and for a time even the government lotter 
ies were forgotten. 28 And the gold offered by ship 
masters to the merchants of the Asiatic coast raised 
still higher the fever in the veins of both natives and 
English. 29 

Not less affected were the inhabitants of the Mar 
quesas Islands. Those of the French colony who 
were free made immediate departure, and were quickly 
followed by the military, leaving the governor alone 
to represent the government. On reaching Australia 
the news was eagerly circulated and embellished by 
ship-masters. The streets of the chief cities were 
placarded, "Gold! Gold! in California!" and soon it 
became difficult to secure berths on departing vessels. 33 
And so in Peru and Chile, where the California reve 
lation was unfolded as earty as September 1848 by 
Colonel Mason s messenger, on his way to Washing 
ton, bringing a large influx in advance of the dominant 
United States emigration. 31 Such were the world 
currents evoked by the ripple at Coloma. 

Zamacois, Hist. Mex., x. 1141. Says Coleman, The Round Trip, 28, 
who happened to be at Manila in the spring of 1848 when the Rhone arrived 
from S. F., She brought the news of the gold discoveries, and fired the colony 
with the same intense desire that inflamed the Spaniards of the 16th century. 

29 Leese was about to sail for Manila in March, and from there take in a 
cargo of rice for Canton. Sherman s Mem., i. 65. 

30 Barry s Ups and Downs, 92-3, and Larkin s Docs, MS., vii. 80. Eight 
vessels have left that hot-bed of roguery Sidney, Placer Times, June 2, 
1849, and with them came a mass of delectable Sidney coves. The press 
sought naturally to counteract the excitement and make the most of some 
local gold finds. See Melbourne Herald, Feb. 6, 7, 10, 1849. 

31 Vessels sent to Valparaiso for flour brought back large numbers to Cal. 
Findla sStat., MS., 7; King s Kept, in U. S. Gov. Docs, 31st cong. 1st sess., H. 
Ex. Doc. 59, 26. The arrival of the Lambayecana of Colombia with gold-dust 
caused no small excitement in Payta, and the news of the discovery soon 
spread; on the 15th of January, 1849, when the California arrived at Panama, 
she had some 75 Peruvians on board. W illey s Per. Mem., MS., 60. It is 
reported here that California is all gold, writes Atherton from Valparaiso, 
Sept. 10th, to Larkin. Probably a little glitter has blinded them. The 
gold-dust received per brig J. R. S. sold for 22 reales per castellano of 21 qui- 
lates fine, this having exceeded the standard about 1 quilates, netted 23 reales 

?er castellano, being nearly $17.50 per ounce. Larkin x Docs, MS., vi. 173. 
n Aug. Larkin entered into partnership with Job F. Dye, who about the 
middle of Sept. sailed M ith the schooner Mary down the Mexican coast, tak 
ing with him placer gold. 




SINCE the voyage of the Argonauts there had been 
no such search for a golden fleece as this which now 
commanded the attention of the world. And as the 
adventures of Jason s crew were the first of the kind 
of which we have any record, so the present impetuous 
move was destined to be the last. Our planet has 
become reduced to a oneness, every part being daily 
known to the inhabitants of every other part. There 
is no longer a far-away earth s end where lies Colchis 
close-girded by the all-infolding ocean. The course of 
our latter-day gold-fleece seekers was much longer 
than Jason s antipodal voyage; indeed, it was the 
longest possible to be performed on this planet, 
leading as it did through a wide range of lands 
and climes, from snow-clad shores into tropic lati 
tudes, and onward through antarctic dreariness into 
spring and summer lands. In the adventures of 
the new Argonauts the Symplegades reappeared in 
the gloomy clefts of Magellan Strait; many a Tiphys 
relaxes the helm, and many dragons teeth are sown. 
Even the ills and dangers that beset Ulysses travels, 
in sensual circean appetites, lotus-eating indulgence, 



Calypso grottos and sirens, may be added to the list 
without tilling it. 

"The wise man knows nothing worth worshipping 
except wealth/ said the Cyclops to Ulysses, while 
preparing to eat him, and it appears that as many 
hold the same faith now as in Homeric times. At 
night our Argonauts dream of gold; the morning sun 
rises golden-hued to saffron all nature. Gold floats in 
their bacon breakfast and bean dinner. which is the 
kind of fare their gods generally provide for them; 
and throughout the bedraggled remnant of their years 
they go about like men demented, walking the earth 
as if bitten by gold-bugs and their blood thereby in 
fected by the poison; fingering, kicking, and biting 
everything that by any possibility may prove to be 
gold. They are no less victims of their infatuation 
than was Hylas, or Ethan Brand, who sacrificed his 
humanity to seek the unpardonable sin. Each has 
his castle in Spain, and the way to it lies through the 
Golden Gate, into the Valley of California. 

The migration was greatly facilitated by the estab 
lishment of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company 
just before the gold discovery, encouraged by the 
anticipation of new interests on the Pacific coast ter 
ritory. 1 Congress fully appreciated the importance 

*One J. M. Shively, postmaster at Astoria, Oregon, while on a visit to 
Washington in 1845, is said to have been the first to call the attention of the 
U. S. govt to the advisability of establishing a line of mail-steamers between 
Panamd and Astoria. His suggestion does not seem to have had much 
weight, however. Later in the same year the threatening attitude of Great 
Britain in the north-west caused President Polk to lay before congress a plan 
for rapidly increasing the population of Oregon by emigration via the Isthmus, 
using sailing vessels. J. M. "Woodward, a shipping merchant of New York, 
assisted in preparing details for the plan. His investigations led him to 
believe that a line of mail-steamers might profitably be established between 
Panamfi and Oregon, and a number of merchants and capitalists were readily 
induced to join in forming a private company. The most complete history of 
the Pac. Mail S. S. Co. during the first five years of its existence is contained 
in the following government document: Mails, Reports of the Secretary of the 
Navy and the Postma*ter-<jene ral, Communicating, in Compliance with a Ref 
lation of the Senate, Information in Relation to the Contract* for the Trans 
portation of the Mull* by Steamships between New York and California, March 
23, 1852, 32d cong. 1st sess., Sen. Ex. Doc. 50. An excellent chapter on 
the formation of the company is also to be found in First Steamship Pioneers, 
17-33; see also Larkin s Doc., MS., vi. 173. 


of rapid communication with that section, and by 
virtue of an act passed on the 3d of March, 1847, the 
secretary of the navy advertised for bids to carry the 
United States mails by one line of steamers between 
New York and Chagres, and by another line between 
Panama and Astoria* The contract for the Atlantic 
side called for five steamships of 1,500 tons burden 
each, all strongly constructed and easily convertible 
into war steamers, for which purpose the government 
might at any time purchase them by appraisement. 
Their route was to be "from New York to New Or 
leans twice a month and back, touching at Charles 
ton, if practicable, Savannah, and Habana; and from 
Habana to Chagres arid back twice a month." For 
the Pacific line only three vessels were required, on 
similar terms, and these of a smaller size, two of not 
less than 1,000, and the other of 600, tons burden. 
These were to carry the mail " from Panamd to As 
toria, or to such other port as the secretary of the 
navy may select, in the territory of Oregon, once a 
month each way, so as to connect with the mail from 
Habana to Chagres across the Isthmus." 

The contract for the Atlantic side was awarded on 
the 20th of April, 1847, to Albert G. Sloo, who on the 
17th of August transferred it to George Law, M. O. 
Roberts, and B. R Mcllvaine of New York. The 
annual compensation allowed by the government was 
$290,000; the first two ships were to be completed 
by the first of October, 1848. The contract for the 
Pacific side was given to a speculator named Arnold 
Harris, and by him assigned to William H. Aspin- 
wall, the annual subsidy for ten years being $199, 000. 2 

2 Woodward bid $300,000, with side-wheel steamers, and one of his asso 
ciates proposed to do the work for half that sum with propellers. The last 
offer was accepted, but the bidder withdrew, and Harris received the award, 
after arranging to assign it to Woodward, it is claimed. He looked round 
for a better bargain, however, and on Nov. 19, 1847, the contract was trans 
ferred to Aspinwall, despite the protests of Woodward, who was beaten 
in a long and expensive series of litigations. First Steamship Pioneers, 26. 
The same authority states that Aspinwall was induced to take the contract 
by Armstrong, a relative of Harris, and U. S. consul at Liverpool, 


Owing to the greater prominence meanwhile acquired 
by California, the terminus for this line was placed at 
San Francisco, whence Oregon mails were to be trans 
mitted by sailing vessels. 3 

Through Aspiri wall s exertions, the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company was incorporated on the 12th of 
April, 1848, with a capital stock of $500,000. 4 The 
three side-wheel steamers called for by the contract 
were built with despatch, but at the same time with 
care and of the best materials, as was shown by their 
long service. 

On October 6, 1848, the first of these vessels, the 
California, sailed from New York, and was followed 
in the two succeeding months by the Oregon and the 
Panama? When the California left New York the 
discovery of gold was known in the States only by un 
confirmed rumors, which had attracted little attention, 
so that she carried no passengers for California. 6 On 

3 To the mouth of the Kalumet river, in lieu of Astoria, with the reserved 
right of the navy department to require the steamers to go to Astoria, the 
straits of Fuca, or any other point to be selected on the coast of Oregon. In 
consideration of which the steamers are to touch, free of charge, at the three 
points occupied by the U. S. squadron, or at such ports on the west coast, 
south of Oregon, as may be required by the navy dept. Modification of 
June 10, 1848. In 1850 steam connection was required with Oregon. U. S\ 
Gov. Doc.y ubi sup., p. 5-6, 36; see also Hist. Oregon, i., this series. 

* Gardiner Howland, Heni-y Chauncey, and William H. Aspinwall were 
the incorporators, and the last mentioned was elected the first president. In 
1850 the capital stock was raised to |2, 000,000, in 1853 to $4,000,000, in 1865 
to $10,000,000, in 1866 to $20,000,000, and in 1872 it was reduced to $10,- 

5 Their measurements were 1,050, i,099, and 1,087 tons respectively. The 
Panama should have been second, but was delayed. The Atlantic company 
proved less prompt. For several years they provided only three accepted 
steamers, Georgia, Ohio, and Illinois, and the inferior and temporary Falcon, 
besides other aid; yet full subsidy was allowed. The captains were to be 
U. S. naval officers, not below the grade of lieut, each assisted by four passed 
midshipmen. U. S. Gov. Doc., ubi sup. 

6 And only four or five for way-ports. Rio de Janeiro was reached Nov. 
2d, and the straits of Magellan were safely threaded between Dec. 7th and 
12th. The California was the third steamship to pass through them, the pre 
vious ones being, in 1840, the Peru and the Chili, each of 700 tons, built 
by an English company for trade between the west coast of South America 
and England. Under the command of William Wheelwright they made the 
passage of the straits in thirty hours sailing time. According to the journal 
kept by A. B. Stout, the California * sailing time in the straits was 41^ hours, 
and the time lost in anchoring during fogs and high winds 108 hours. First 
Steamship Pioneers, 111-12. This journal is, I believe, the only account ex 
tant of the California s voyage as far as Panama. A stoppage of 50 hours 


reaching Callao, December 29th, the gold fever was 
encountered, and great was the rush for berths, al 
though but fifty could be provided with state-rooms, 
owing to the understanding at New York that the 
steamer should take no passengers before reaching 
Panama". 7 It was well for the Isthmus of Panama, 
which fairly swarmed with gold-seekers, some 1,500 
in number, all clamorous for, and many of them en 
titled to, a passage on the California? 

This mass of humanity had been emptied from the 
fleet of sailing and steam vessels despatched during the 
nine preceding weeks for the mouth of the Chagres 
River, which was then the north-side harbor for the 
Isthmus. Hence the people proceeded up the river 
to Cruces in bongos, or dug-outs, poled by naked ne 
groes, as lazy and vicious as they were stalwart. 9 
Owing to the heavy rains which added to the discom 
fort and danger, the eagerness to proceed was great, 
and the means of conveyance proved wholly inadequate 
to the sudden and enormous influx, the natives being, 
moreover, alarmed at first by the invasion. The in- 

was made at Valparaiso, and on the illness of the commander, Cleaveland 
Forbes, John Marshall, then commanding a ship en route for China, was in 
duced to act as first officer in lieu of Duryee, who was appointed to the com 
mand of Marshall s ship. Id., 29-30, 118. A few days later Forbes resigned. 
First Steamship Pioneers, Edited by a Committee of the Association, is the 
title of a quarto of 393 pages, printed in San Francisco for the 25th anni 
versary of the association in 1874. From the profuse puffery with which the 
volume opens, the reader is led to suspect that the printing, picture, and wine 
bills of the society were not large that year. Following this is a chapter 
entitled Steam Navigation in the Pacific, conspicuous only for the absence 
of information or ideas. Chapter II. on the P. M. S. S. Co. is better, and the 
occurrences of the voyage by the passengers on the first steamship to Cal., of 
which the main part of the book is composed, no less than the biographical 
notices toward the end, are interesting and valuable. 

7 At Payta, accordingly, where equal excitement prevailed, no more pas 
sengers appear to have been taken. 

8 Six sailing vessels and two steamers are mentioned among recent arrivals 
with passengers from the U. S. See Panama Star, Feb. 24, 1849; Pioneer 
Arch., 5, 21-4; Robinson s Stat., MS., 23-4. 

9 The boats were usually from 15 to 25 feet long, dug from a single mahog 
any log, provided with palm-leaf awning, and poled by 4 or 6 men at the 
average rate of a mile an hour. Often the only shred of clothing worn by the 
captain was a straw hat. Warren s Dust and Foam, 153-6; Henxhaw 1 * Events, 
MS., 1; Gregory s Guide, 1-9. A small steamer, Orns, had been placed on 
the river, but could proceed only a short distance, and the expense of transit, 
estimated at $10 or $15, rose to $50 and more. Protests in Panama Star, 
Feb. 24, 1849; Dunbar s Romance, 55-89. 



experience and imprudent indulgences of the new 
comers gave full scope to the malarial germs in the 
swamps around. Cholera broke out in a malignant 
form, following the hurrying crowds up the river, and 
striking down victims by the score. Such was the 
death-rate at Cruces, the head of navigation, that the 
second current of emigrants stopped at Gorgona in 


affright, thence to hasten away from the smitten river 
course. 10 Again they were checked by the scarcity 
of pack-animals, by which the overland transit was 

"References to the suffering victims, and causes, in Roach s Stat., MS., 
1; First Steamship Pioneers, 84-5; Fremont s Amer. Travel, 66-8; Sutton s 
Early Exper., MS., 1; Hawley s Stat., MS., 2-3; NealVs Stat., MS., 22-4; 
Advent. Captain s Wife, 18. 


accomplished. Numbers abandoned their luggage and 
merchandise, or left them to the care of agents to 
be irretrievably lost in the confusion, and hurried to 
Panama^ on foot. From Cruces led an ancient paved 
trail, now dilapidated and rendered dangerous along 
many of the step-cut descents and hill-side shelves. 
From Gorgona the passenger had to make his way as 
best he could. 11 

Panamd was a place of special attraction to these 
wayfarers, as the oldest European city on the Ameri 
can continent, 12 and for centuries the great entrepot 
for Spanish trade with Pacific South America and the 
Orient, a position which also drew upon it much misery 
in the form of piratic onslaughts with sword and torch. 
With the decline of Iberian supremacy it fell into 
lethargy, to be roused to fresh activity by the new 
current of transit. It lies conspicuous, before sea or 
mountain approach, upon its tiny peninsula which juts 
into the calm bay dotted with leafy isles. The houses 
rise as a rule to the dignity of two stories of stone or 
adobe, with long lines of balconies and sheltering ve 
randas, dingy and sleepy of aspect, and topped here 
and there by tile-roofed towers, guarding within spas 
modic bells, marked without by time-encroaching 
mosses and creepers. Along the shady streets lounge 
a bizarre mixture of every conceivable race: Africans 
shining in unconstrained simplicity of nature; bronzed 
aborigines in tangled hair and gaudy shreds; women 
of the people in red and yellow; women of the upper 
class in dazzling white or sombre black; caballeros in 
broad-rimmed Panarnd hats and white pantaloons, and 
now and then the broad Spanish cloak beside the veil 
ing mantilla; while foreigners of the blond type in 
slouched hats and rough garb stalk every where, ogling 
and peering. 

11 Later rose frequent bamboo stations and villages, with I unks and ham 
mocks, and vile liquors. An earlier account of the route is given in MoUien it 
Travel*, 409-13. Little, Stat., MS., 1-4 had brought supplies for two years. 

12 The oldest standing city, if we count from the time of its foundation on 
an adjoining site. 


The number and strength of the emigrants, armed 
and resolute, placed the town practically in their hands; 
but good order prevailed, the few unruly spirits roused 
by the cup being generally controlled by their com 
rades. 13 Compelled by lack of vessels to wait, they 
settled down into communities, which quickly imparted 
a bustling air to the place, as gay as deferred hope, 
dawning misery, and lurking epidemics permitted; 
with American hotels, flaring business signs, drinking- 
saloons alive with discordant song and revelling, 14 and 
with the characteristic newspaper, the Panama Star, 
then founded and still surviving as the most impor 
tant journal of Central America. 15 

The suspense of the Argonauts was relieved on the 
30th of January, 1849, by the arrival of the Califor 
nia, 16 to be as quickly renewed, since with accommo 
dation for little over 100 persons, the steamer could 
not properly provide even for those to whom through- 
tickets had been sold, much less for the crowd strug 
gling to embark. After much trouble with the exas 
perated and now frantic men, over 400 were received 

73 The attempt of local authorities at arrest was generally frustrated by 
armed though harmless bluster, as Hawley, Obscrv., MS., 2-3, relates. 
Nearly half the population was foreign by February 1849, two thirds of this 
being American. The number rose as high as 3,000 during the year. 

14 As described in the Eldorado, i. 20-7, of Taylor, who was himself an 
Argonaut; in Maxsett s humorous Experiences, MS., 1-10; Ryan s Judges and 
Crim., 78-9; Little s Stat., MS.. 1-3; Roach s Facts, MS., 1. Washington s 
birthday was celebrated with procession, volleys, and concert. Panama Star, 
Feb. 24 , 1849. 

15 It was started by J. B. Bidleman & Co. on Feb. 24, 1849, as a weekly, at 
one real per copy; advertisements $2 per square, and contained notices of 
arrivals, protest, local incidents, etc.; printers, Henarie & Bochman. The 
later Herald was incorporated and added to the title. Additional details on 
Panama occurrences in Revere 1 s Keel and Saddle, 151-4; Willey s Peru. Mem., 
MS., 58-62; Sherwood s Ccd., MS., 27; Connor s Early Col., MS., 1-2; Loic s 
Observ., MS., 1. See also Jiist. Cent. Am., iii., this series. 

16 She had been three weeks longer on the trip than was expected, owing 
to fogs, etc. The first steamer of the Atlantic line, the provisional Falcon, 
had left New York on Dec. 1st, before the real excitement began, with the 
president s message of Dec. 5th, so that she carried comparatively few passen 
gers from there, among them four clergymen and some army men. An account 
of the voyage is given in First Steamer Pioneers, 43 et seq. See also Willey a 
Pers. Mem., MS., 1-36; Williams Early Days, MS., 2-3, both written by pas 
sengers. At New Orleans, however, Dec. 12th-18th, she encountered the gold 
fever and was quickly crowded with over 200 persons, Gen. Persifer F. Smith, 
the successor of Gov. Mason, embarking with his staff. Chagres was reached 
on Dec. 26th. U. S. Gov. Doc., 32d cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 50. 


on board to find room as best they could. Many a one, 
glad to make his bed in a coil of rope, paid a higher fare 
than the state-room holder; for steerage tickets rose to 
very high prices, even, it is said, to $1,000 or more. 17 
Even worse was the scene greeting the second 
steamer, the Oregon, which arrived toward the middle 
of March, 18 for by that time the crowd had doubled. 
Again a struggle for tickets at any price and under 
any condition. About 500 were received, all chafing 
with anxiety lest they should arrive too late for the 
gold scramble, and prepared to sleep in the rigging 
rather than miss the passage. 19 And so with the 
Panama, which followed. 20 

^Little s Slat., MS., 1-4; Henshaw, Stat., MS., 1, says the agents fixed 
steerage tickets at $1,000. A certain number were sold by lot, with much 
trickery. They also attempted to exclude tickets sold at New York after a 
certain date, but were awed into compliance. Loiu s Stat., MS. ; Deane s MS., 
1; Roach s Stat., MS., 2. Holders of tickets were offered heavy sums for 
them. Moore s RecoL, MS., 2. For arrangements on board, see Vanderbilt, 
Miscel. Stat., MS., 32-3. Authorities differ somewhat as to the number of 
passengers. About 400, say the Panama Star, Feb. 24, 1849; Alta CaL, Feb. 
29, 1872; Bulletin, Feb. 28, 1865; Oakland Transcript, March 1, 1873; the 
Oakland Alameda County Gazette, March 8, 1873, says 440; Crosby, Stat., 
MS., 10-14, has about 450: while Stout, in his journal, says nearly 500. In 
First Steamship Pioneers, 201-360, a brief biographical sketch is given to each 
of the following passengers of the California on her first trip, many of whom 
have subsequently been more or less identified with the interests of the state: 
H. Whittell, born in Ireland in 1812; L. Brooke, Maryland, 1819; A. M. Van 
Nostrand, N. Y., 1816; De WittC. Thompson, Mass., 1826; S. Haley, N. Y., 
1816; John Kelley, Scotland, 1818; S. Woodbridge, Conn., 1813; P. Ord, 
Maryland, 1816; J. McDorgall; A. A. Porter, N. Y., 1824; B. F. Butterfield, 
N. H., 1817; P. Carter, Scotland, 1808; M. Fallon, Ireland, 1815; W. G. 
Davis, Va, 1804; C. M. Radcliff, Scotland, 1818; R, W. Heath, Md, 1823; 
Wm Van Vorhees, Tenn., 1820; W. P. Waters, Wash., D. C., 1826; R. B. Ord, 
Wash., 1827; S. H. Willey, N. H., 1821; S. F. Blasdell, N. Y., 1824; H. F. 
Williams, Va, 1828; 0. C. Wheeler, N. Y., 1816; E. L. Morgan, Pa, 1824; 
R. M. Price, N. Y., 1818. 

18 A delay caused by the temporary disabling of the Panama, which should 
have been the second steamer. The Oregon had left New York in the latter 
part of Dec. and made a quick trip without halting in Magellan Straits, though 
touching at Valparaiso, Callao, and Payta. R. H. Pearson commanded. 
Sutton, Exper., MS., 1, criticises his ability; he nearly wrecked the vessel. 
Little s Stat., MS., 3, agrees. 

19 She stayed at Panama March 13th-17th. Among the passengers sur 
viving in California in 1863 were John H. Redington, Dr McMillan, A. J. 
McCabe, Mrs Petit and daughter, Thomas E. Lindenberger, John McComb, Ed 
ward Connor, 8. H. Brodie, William Carey Jones, Smyth Clark, M. S. Martin, 
John M. Birdsall, Stephen Franklin, Major Daniels, F. Vassault, G. K. Fitch, 
William Cummings, Mme. Swift, Mr Tuttle, Judge Aldrich, James Tobin, 
Fielding Brown, James Johnson, Dr Martin. Some of these had come by the 
second steamer of the Atlantic mail line, the Isthmus, which arrived at 
Chagres Jan. 16th. 

20 Which arrived at PanamA in the early part of May, leaving on the 18th. 


As one chance after another slipped away, there 
were for those remaining an abundance of time and 
food for reflection over the frauds perpetrated upon 
them by villanous ship-owners and agents, to say 
nothing of their own folly. The long delay sufficed 
to melt the scanty means of a large number, prevent 
ing thern from taking advantages of subsequent op 
portunities; and so to many this isthmian bar to the 
Indies proved a barrier as insurmountable as to the 
early searchers for the strait. Fortunately for the mass 
a few sailing vessels had casually arrived at Panamd, 
and a few more were called from adjoining points; 
but these were quickly bought by parties or filled 
with miscellaneous passengers, 21 and still there was no 
lessening of the crowd. In their hunger for gold, and 

There had been a reprehensible sale of tickets in excess of what these steamers 
could carry; 700 according to Connor, Stat., MS., 1. Lots were drawn for steer 
age places by the holders of tickets on paying 100 extra. D. D. Porter, sub 
sequently rear admiral, commanded, succeeded by Bailey. Low s Stat., MS., 2; 
S. F. Bulletin, June 4, 1869; Altn Col., June 4, 1867; Burnett s Hecol., MS., iL 
40-2; Deane s Stat., MS., 1-2; Barnes Or, and Col., MS., 26; Merrill s Stat. , 
MS., 1. Among the passengers of the Panama who subsequently attained 
distinction in California and elsewhere, I find mention of Gwin and Weller, 
both subsequently U. S. senators from Cal., and the latter also gov. of the 
state; D. D. Porter, afterward admiral; generals Emory, Hooker, and Mc- 
Kinstry to use their later titles; T. Butler King, Walter Colton, Jewett, 
subsequently mayor of Marysville, and Roland, postmaster of Sacramento; 
Hall McAllister, Lieut Derby, humorist under the nom de plume of Phosnix; 
Treanor, Brinsmade, Kerr, Frey, John V. Plume, Harris, P. A. Morse, John 
Brinsley, Lafayette Maynard, H. B. Livingstone, Alfred De Witt, S. C. Gray, 
A. Collins, and H. Beach. There were five or six women, among them Mrs 
Robert Allen, wife quart. -gen., Mrs Alfred De Witt, Mrs S. C. Gray of 
Benicia, and Mrs Hobson from Valparaiso. 

21 One small schooner of 70 tons was offered for sale in 28 shares at $300 
a share; another worthless old hulk of 50 tons was offered for $6,000. False 
representations had been made by agents and captains that there was a Brit 
ish steam line from Panamd, and equally false assurances of numerous sailing 
vessels; but the passengers by the Crescent City found only one brig at Panama, 
and she was filled. Hawley, Stat., MS., 2-3. charges the captain of this 
steamer with drunkenness and abuse; he had brought a stock of fancy goods, 
which he managed to get forwarded by dividing among passengers who had 
less luggage than the steamer rules allowed. Among vessels leaving after 
the California, the brig Belfast of 190 tons took 76 passengers at $100 each 
in the middle of Feb. Panamd Star, Feb. 24, 1849. The Niantic, of subse 
quent lodging-house fame, came soon after from Payta, spent three weeks in 
fitting out, and took about 250 persons at $150. McCcllnm a Cal. 1 7, 25-6. The 
Alex, von Humboldt took more than 300 in May. Sac. Bee, Aug. 27, 1874. 
The Phoenix carried 60, and took 115 days to reach S. F.; the Two Friend*, 
with 164 persons, occupied over five months. Sac. Rec., Sept. 10, 1874. A pro 
portion of gold-hunters had taken the route by Nicaragua; see record of 
voyage in Hitchcock s Stat., MS., 1-7; Doolittle s Stat., MS., 1-21. 


anxiety to escape fevers and expenses on the Isth 
mus, several parties thrust themselves with foolhardy 
thoughtlessness into log canoes, to follow the coast to 
the promised land, only to perish or be driven back 
after a futile struggle with winds and currents. 22 Yet 
they were not more unfortunate than several who had 
trusted themselves to the rotten hulks that presented 
themselves. 23 

After a prosperous voyage of four weeks, prolonged 
by calls at Acapulco and San Bias, San Diego and 
Monterey, 24 the steamer California entered the bay of 
San Francisco on February 28, 1849, a day forever 
memorable in the annals of the state. It was a gala- 
day at San Francisco. The town was alive with winter 
ing miners. In the bay were ships at anchor, gay with 
bunting, and on shore nature was radiant in sunshine 
and bloom. The guns of the Pacific squadron opened 
the welcome with a boom, which rolled over the 
waters, breaking in successive verberations between 
the circling hills. The blue line of jolly tars manning 
the yards followed with cheers that found their echo 
in the throng of spectators fringing the hills. From 
the crowded deck of the steamer came loud response, 
midst the flutter of handkerchiefs and bands of music. 
Boats came out, their occupants boarding, and pouring 
into strained ears the most glowing replies to the 
all-absorbing questions of the new-comers concerning 
the mines assurances which put to flight many of the 
misgivings conjured up by leisure and reflection; yet 

225 One party of 23 was passed far up the coast by a steamer, a month out, 
and obtained supplies, but they soon abandoned the trip. Santa Cruz Times, 
Feb. 26, 1870; Taylor s Eldorado, i. 29-30. 

23 It is only necessary to instance the voyages of the San Blasena and the 
Dolphin, the latter related in Still-man s Golden Fleece, 327-52, from the MS. 
of J. W. Griffith and I. P. Crane; also in Quigley * Irish Race, 465-8; San 
Joe Pioneer, Dec. 29, 1879, etc. Tired of the slow progress and the prospect 
of starvation, a portion of the passengers landed on the barren coast of Lower 
California, and made their way, under intense suffering, to their destination. 
Gordon s party sailed from Nicaragua in a seven-ton sloop. Sufferings related 
in Hitchcock s StL, MS., 1-7. 

24 When near here the coal supply of the California was reported exhausted, 
and spare spars had to be used; the proposed landing to cut logs was fortu 
nately obviated by the discovery of a lot of coal under the forward deck. 


better far for thousands had they been able to trans 
late the invisible, arched in flaming letters across the 
Golden Gate, as at the portal of hell, LASCIATE OGNI 
SPERANZA, voi CH ENTRATE all hope abandon, ye who 
enter here. Well had it been were Minos there telling 
them to look well how they entered and in whom they 
trusted, 25 if, indeed, they did not immediately flee the 
country for their lives. 

Before the passengers had fairly left the steamer 
she was deserted by all belonging to her, save an en 
gineer, 26 and was consequently unable to start on the 
return trip. Captain Pearson of the Oregon, which 
arrived on April 1st, 27 observed a collusion between 
the crew and passengers, and took precautions, 28 an 
chored his vessel under the guns of a man-of-war, and 
placed the most rebellious men under arrest. Never 
theless some few slipped off in disguise, and others 
by capturing the boat. He thereupon hastened away, 
April 12th, with the scanty supply of coal left, barely 
enough to carry him to San Bias, where there was a 
deposit. 29 The Oregon accordingly carried back the 
first mail, treasure, and passengers. When the Pan 
ama entered San Francisco Bay on June 4th, 30 the 

25 The anniversary of the arrival has been frequently commemorated with 
mementos, as in the volume First Steamship Pioneers. Sherman tells of ex 
citement created at Monterey, and how he there boarded the steamer for S. F. 
Mem., i. 32, 61-5; AltaCaL, Feb. 29, 1872, June 2, 1874; Crosby, Stat., MS., 
10-11, places the ships then in the bay at Sauzalito; not so the S. F. Bulletin, 
Feb. 28, 1865; Alamcda Co. Gaz., Mar. 8, 1873; Oakland Transcript, Mar. 1, 
1873: G win s Mem., MS., 6-7; S. F. Directory, 1852-3, 10. 

26 The third assistant, F. Foggin, who was subsequently rewarded with the 
post of chief engineer. Capt. Forbes accordingly resumed charge, and asked 
Com. Jones for men to protect the steamer. Crosby * Stat., MS., 12. Vallejo 
Recorder, Mar. 14, 1868, has it that Capt. Marshall remained true. 

27 U. S. Gov. Doc., 32d cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 50; Manrow s Vig. Com., 
MS., 67; Willey s Pers. Mem., MS., 3; William* Stat,., MS., 7; Mary*vd(e 
Appeal, April 3, 1864; Petaluma Aryus, April 4, 1873. All agree on April 
1, 1849, but Hittell, Hist. S. F., 139, who says March 31. Concerning her 
trip, see Capt. Pearson s speech at the anniversary, 1868, in Vallejo Recorder, 
Mar. 14, 1868. 

28 Especially after the desertion of the carpenter at Monterey, who swam 
ashore at night at great risk. 

29 He had 70 tons. The refractory sailors were kept in irons till they sub 
mitted to accept an increase of pay from $12 to 112 a month. The coal-ship 
Superior arrived at S. F. some weeks later. 

A(i Alta Cal, June 4, 1862, and June 4, 1867; Alameda Co. Gazette, May 
29, 1875; s. F. Bulletin, June 4, 1869; Low s Statement, MS., 2. The official 



California had obtained coal and a crew, and had 
departed for Panama". From this time she and the 
other steamers, with occasionally an extra vessel, made 
their trips with tolerable regularity. 31 Three regular 
steamers were added to the line by 1851; and on 
March 3d of this year the postmaster-general author 
ized a semi-monthly service. 

statement of June 8th appears, therefore, wrong in this case. She was short 
of coal, like the California, and had to burn some of her woodwork. 

31 The following statement of mail service will show the order and dates of 
the trips of the Panamd steamers during 1849 and part of 1850: 



San Fran. 


San Fran. 


California . . 
Panama . 
California . . 
Oregon .... 

Jan. 31, 19 
Mar. 13, 49 
May 18, 49 
May 23, 49 
June 25, 49 
July 29, 49 
Aug. 28, 49 

Feb. 28, 49 
Apr. 1, 49 
JuneS (4?) , 49 
June 17, 49 
July 16, 49 
Aug. 19, 49 
Sept. 18, 49 

California . . 
California . . 

Apr. 12, 49 
May 1, 49 
June 19, 49 
July 2, 49 
Aug. 2, 49 
Sept. 1, 4.9 
Oct. 1, 49 

May 4, 49 
May 23, 49 
July 12, 49 
July 21, 49 
Aug. 24, 49 
Sept. 22, 49 
Oct. 24, 49 

California . . 
Unicorn (a) . 
California . . 
Unicorn (a) 
California . . 
Tennessee (a) 

Sept. 17, 49 
Oct. 1, 49 
Oct. 10, 49 
Nov. 10, 49 
Dec. 6, 49 
Jan. 1, 50 
Jan. 1 2, T>0 
Feb. 5, 50 
Mar. 2, 50 
Mar. 24 50 
Apr. 1, 50 

Oct. 9, 49 
Oct. 31, 49 
Oct. 31, 49 
Dec. 2, 49 
Dec. 28, 49 
Jan. 18, 50(6) 
Feb. 8, 50(6) 
Feb. 22, 50 
Mar. 26, 50 
Apr. 13, 60(6) 
Apr. 22, 50 

California . . 
Unicorn ... . 
California . . 
California . . 
Tennessee . .. 

Nov. 2, 49 
Nov. 15, 49 
Dec. 1, 49 
Jan. 1, 50 
Jan. 15, 50 
Feb. 1, 50 
Mar. 1, 50 
Apr. 1, 50 
Apr. 21, 50 
May 1, 50 
June 1, 50 

Nov. 22. 49 
Dec. 4, 49 
Dec. 28, 49 
Jan. 23, 50 
Feb. 4, 50 
Feb. 23, 50 
Mar. 20, 50 
Apr. 23, 50 
May 11, 50 
May 21, 50 
June 22, 50 

Caroline (a) . 
Tennessee ( ) 
California . . 
Panama (a). . 

Apr. 16, 50 
May 1, 50 
May 30, 50 
June 1, 50 
June 15, 50 

May 7, 50 

(a) Extra trips. (6) Understood to be. 

U. S. Gov. Doc., 32d cong. 1st sess., Sen. Ex. Doc. 50, p. 42-44. The three 
original steamers plied here for a number of years, but were in time replaced 
on that route by newer vessels. In the S. F. Bulletin, Feb. 28, 1865, we read: 
The California is now lying at Acapulco, whither she was taken to run be 
tween the Mexican ports. The Panama and Oreyon are plying between this 
city and ports on the northern coast. Again, the Olympia Transcript, June 
17, 1876, states that all three have disappeared from the passenger trade, 
but are still in service. The Oregon is a barkentine engaged in the Puget 
Sound lumber trade. The Panama is a storeship at Acapulco; and the Cali 
fornia is a barkentine in the Australian trade. The three steamers added 
were the Columbia and Tennessee in 1850, and the Golden Gate in 1851. Be 
tween Mar.-Oct. 1850, 50 per cent was added to the mail compensation, and 
75 per cent after this, or $348,250 per annum in all. U. S. Gov. Doc. , as above, 
7 et seq. ; Pioneer Arch., 157-60; Alta Gal., June 7, 1876. The accommoda 
tion of the Pacific line has ever been superior to that of the Atlantic. A 
depot for repairs was early established at Benicia. Land was bought at that 
place and at San Diego. The Northerner arrived Aug. 1850. In March 1851 
a rival line had four steamers, which, with odd vessels, made fifteen steamers 
on the route. 



The transit of the Isthmus was facilitated by the 
opening in January 1855 of the Panarnd Railway, 32 
which gave the route a decided advantage over others. 
Continental crossings drew much of the traffic from 
the voyage by way of Cape Horn, Tour or five months 
in duration, and involving a quadruple transmigration 
of terrestrial zones, capped by the dangerous rounding 
of the storm-beaten cliffs of Tierra del Fuego, often 
in half-rotten and badly fitted hulks. Indeed, the 


circumnavigation of the southern mainland by Amer 
ican gold-seekers was not undertaken to any extent 
after the first years. As the resources of California 
developed, sea travel below Panama began to stop, 

32 Which reduced the expense and hardships of the long mule-and-boat 
journey, while lessening the exposure to fevers. Concerning the contracts 
and mistakes of the projectors, the five years of struggle with the under 
taking, and its immense cost in life and money, I refer to the interoceauic 
question in Hist. Cent. Am., iii., this series. 


and distribute itself over the different crossing-places 
opened by explorers for interoceanic communication: 
across Mexico by way of Tampico, Vera Cruz, and 
Tehuantepec; across Central America via Honduras, 
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, 33 and Panama. The last 
named maintained the lead only for a brief period, 
and Nicaragua, the chief rival of the Panamd route, 
distanced all the rest. Many had taken this route in 
1849 on the bare chance of finding a vessel on the 
Pacific side. 34 They usually met with disappointment, 
but they paved the way for later comers, and encour 
aged American capitalists, headed by Cornelius Van- 
derbilt, to form a transit company, with bimonthly 
steamers between New York and California, for which 
concessions were obtained from Nicaragua in 184951, 
under guise of a canal contract. With cheaper fares 
and the prospective gain of two days over the Panama 
route, together with finer scenery and climate, the 
line quickly became a favorite; but it was hampered 
by inferior accommodation and less reliable manage 
ment, and the disturbed condition of Nicaragua began 
to injure it, especially in 1856, after which business 
dissensions tended to undermine the company. 35 

33 In 1854 Costa Rica granted a charter to a N. Y. co. for a transit route, 
which gave the privilege of navigating the San Juan river. Weils Walker s 
Exped., 238-9. It proved abortive. 

34 Instance the severe experiences of Hitchcock. Stat., MS., 1-7; and 
Doolittle. Stat., MS., 1-21. See also Belly, Nic., ii. 91. 

85 The gold rush brightened the prospects of the American Atlantic and 
Pacific Ship Canal Co. , which held a concession for a canal through Nicaragua. 
A new body headed by Jos. L. White and C. Vanderbilt undertook to revive 
it, and obtained from the state a renewal of tKe contract dated Sept. 22, 1849, 
amended April 11, 1850, against a yearly payment of $10,000 till the canal 
should be completed, when twenty per cent of the net profit, besides stock 
shares, should follow; meanwhile paying ten per cent of the net profit on any 
transit route. Several articles provided for protection, exemptions, etc. See 
U. S. Gov. Doc., 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 75, x. 141-5; Id., 34th 
cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 68, xiii. 84-103; Nic., Contrato de Canal, 1849, 
1-16; Id., Contratos Comp. Vapor., 1-2; Cent. Am. Pap., v. 53-5. Other 
details in Hist. Cent. Am., iii., this series. The incorporation act at Leon is 
dated March 9, 1850. Cent. Am. Misc. Docs, 45; Belly, Nic., ii. 70-3. The 
Clayton-Bulwer treaty of April 19, 1850, between the U. S. and Eng., gave 
additional guarantees to this company; but U. S. Minister Squier s guarantee 
of the contract was not ratified by his government. Squier n Cent. Am., ii. 
262 et seq. The aim of the projectors being really to secure the right of 
transit, an Accessory Transit Company was formed, for which, on Aug. 14, 
1851, a charter was obtained from the Granada faction, then iu power, which 


The voyages of the first steamers have naturally 
retained a great interest, as initiating steam commu- 

confirmed the privileges of the canal concession, while lessening its obligations. 
Nic. Convenio, 1-2; ticherfjer a Cent. Am., 245-6. Meanwhile a hasty sur 
vey had been made by Col Childs. Squier s Nic., 657-60; (Jisborne, 8; followed 
by an inflation of the stock of the company and the purchase of steamers for 
bimonthly trips. Among these figured, on the Pacific side, the brother Jon 
athan, Uncle tiam, Pacific, S. S. Lewis, Independence, and Cortes. S. F. 
Directora, 1852, 24; Alia, CaL, June 9, 1859, etc. Grey Town on the east, 
and S. Juan del Sur on the Pacific, became the terminal ports, the latter 
replacing Realejo. On Jan. 1, 1851, the first connecting lake steamer, 
Director, reached La Virgen. Squier, ii. 278; Reichardt, Nic., 165; Cent. Am. 
Pap., iii. 206; and not long after the line opened. Reichardt, Nic., 173, 
181, estimates the traffic to and fro two years later at 3,000 per month, 
fare $250 and $180. From Grey Town a river steamer carried passengers 
to Castillo Viejo rapids; here a half-mile portage to the lake steamer, 
which landed them at La Virgen, whence a mule train crossed the 13 miles 
to San Juan del Sur. Scenery and climate surpassed those of Panama. See 
detailed account in my Inter Pocula. But the management was inferior, the 
intermediate transportation insufficient and less reliable, owing to low water, 
etc., and little attention was paid to the health or comfort of the passengers. 
JJolinski, CaL, 246-79; Cent. Am. Pap., i. 3, iv. 2, v. 100, etc. Disasters 
came, in the loss of two Pacific steamers, the bombardment of Grey Town, 
etc. Id.; Perez, Mem. Nic., 55-6; Pan. Herald, April 1, 1854; Alta CaL, 
March 27, 1854. With the advent of Garrison as manager business improved; 
but Nicaragua became dissatisfied under the failure of the company to pay 
the stipulated share of profit. The unprincipled steamship men complicated 
their accounts only to cheat Nicaragua, relying on Yankee bluster and the 
weakness of the Nicaraguan government to see them out in their rascality. 
Then came Walker the filibuster. He was at first favored by the company, 
but subsequently thought it necessary to press the government claim for 
nearly half a million dollars. This being disputed, a decree of Feb. 18, 1856, 
revoked the charter and ordered the seizure of all steamers and effects, partly 
on the ground that the company favored the opposition party. Vanderbilt 
came forth in protest and denial, claiming that the contract so far had been 
carried out, and demanded protection from U. S. The property seized was 
valued at nearly $1,000,000. Inventory and correspondence in U. S. Gov. 
Doc., 34th cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 68, xiii. 113 et seq.; Id., 35th cong. 2d 
sess., H. Ex. Doc. 100, ix. doc. ii. Walker transferred the charter to another 
company. Vanderbilt enlisted Costa Rican aid and recaptured his steamers. 
Concerning attendant killing of Americans, etc., see Wells Walker s Exped., 
170-5; Nicarayuense, Feb. 23, July 26, 1856, etc.; Perez, Mem., 27-30; Nouv. 
Annales Voy., cxlvii. 136-41; Sac. Union, Dec. 20, 1855, April 17, June 4, 
JO, 1856; Alta CaL, March 22, Aug. 13, 1856, etc. Vanderbilt resumed busi 
ness under the succeeding governments, but with frequent interruptions, 
partly by political factions, with annulments of contracts, changes in man 
agement, and even of companies. Vanderbilt was at one time charged with 
allowing himself to be bought off by the Panama line for $40,000 per month 
and pocketing the money. Id., Jan. 9, 1859. In 1860 an English company 
obtained a concession, but the American company resumed its trips, and in 
1865 its steerage rates were $50. In 1868 the Central American Transit Co., 
then operating, was reported to be bankrupt. The opening soon after of the 
overland railroad to California rendered a transit line across Nicaragua use 
less, since it depended solely on passengers. In 1870 contracts were made 
with the Panamd and other lines to merely touch at Nicaraguan ports. Nic. 
Informe Fomento, iii. 2-3, iv, 4; Gac. Nic., Jan. 11, Feb. 22, 1868; March 12, 
1870; Kirchhof, Rei*e., i. 313-59; Rocha, Codi<jo Nic., ii. 133, 141-2, with 
contract annulments in 1858-63; JVic. Decritos, 1859, ii. 78-9; Alta Col., Sept. 


nication, and as bringing some of tne most prominent 
pioneers, for such is the title accorded to all arrivals 
during 1849 as well as previous years. They also ran 
the gauntlet of much danger, and no one of the Argo s 
heroes was more proud of his perilous exploit than is 
the modern Argonaut who reached the western Colchis 
with the initial trip of the Panama, the Oregon, or, 
better than all, the California. Annual celebrations, 
wide-spread throughout the world, abundantly testify 
to the truth of this statement. And it is right and 
proper that it should be so. The only regret is, that 
so few of the passengers by early sailing vessels should 
have left similar records, and that as year after year 
goes by the number of our Argonauts is thinned; soon 
all will be with their pelagian prototypes. 

16, 1857; Jan. 21, May 30, July 30, Aug. 16, Oct. 26, Nov. 8, 1858; May 26, 
June 9, 10, 1859; 8. F. Bulletin, Feb. 12, May 25, June 2, 1859; March 29, 
1860; Aug. 21, 1862; March 23, 1865; S. F. Gail, July 19, 1865; Pirn s Gate 
Pac., 221-43; Boyle s Ride, 33-8. 




A CURRENT equal in magnitude to the one by sea 
poured with the opening spring overland, chiefly frora 
the western United States. It followed the routes 
traversed by trappers and explorers since the dawn of 
the century, and lately made familiar by the reports 
of Fremont, by the works of travellers like Bidwell, 
Hastings, Bryant, Thornton, and by the records of 
two great migrations, one in 1843 to Oregon, and the 
other in 1846 to California, the latter followed by the 
Mormon exodus to Utah. Organization into parties 
became here more necessary than by sea, for moving 
and guarding camps, and especially for defence against 

Contributions were consequently levied for the 
purchase of wagons, animals, provisions, and even 
trading goods, unless the member was a farmer in 
possession of these things. The latter advantage 
made this journey preferable to a large number, and 
even the poor man could readily secure room in a 



wagon for the small supplies alone indispensable, or 
obtain free passage as driver and assistant. 1 

The rendezvous at starting was on the Missouri 
River, at St Joseph or Independence, long points of 
departure for overland travel, either via the west 
ern main route, which is now marked by the Union 
and Central Pacific railroad line, or by the Santa Fe 
trail. Here they gathered from all quarters eastward, 
on foot and horseback, some with pack-animals or 
mule-teams, but most of them in vehicles. These 
were as various in their equipment, quality, and ap 
pearance as were the vessels for the ocean trip, from 
the ponderous prairie schooner of the Santa Fe 
trader, to the common cart or the light painted wagon 
of the down-east Yankee. 2 Many were bright with 
streamers and flaring inscriptions, such as "Ho, for the 

of the associations were bound by formal contracts, often by an 
agreement to sustain the partnership in Cal. Instance Journey of the Cali 
fornia Association, in Ashley s Doc. Hist. CaL, M.S., 271-377. The associa 
tion was formed at Munroe, Mich., in Feb. 1849, and consisted of ten 
members, intent on mining and trading. Two persons who remained at home 
defrayed the expenses with an advance of $5,000 in return for half the pros 
pective gains. The company failed in its plans and separated. Ashley settled 
at Monterey as a lawyer, and represented the county in the state assembly in 
1856-7. In 1859 lie was state treasurer, and subsequently moving to Nevada, 
he twice represented that state in congress; he died at S. F. in 1873. Salinas 
City Inde.i; July 24, 1873. Another association is recorded by Cassin, Stat., 
MS., 1, who left Cincinnati with 40 others; we each paid in $200 to the 
company s fund. Further: Pittsburgh and Cal. Enterprise Co. of some 250 
members, in Hayes 1 Scraps, Ariz., v. 29; MisceL Stat., MS., 17-8; Seneca Co. 
of Cleveland. Van Dyke s Stat., MS., 1-2. Ithaca Co., in Cal. Pioneers, pt 30, 
2-3. The overland express train of 230 men under Capt. French, of 1850, 
suffered many mishaps and horrors. Alta CaL, Dec. 17, 1850, Mar. 5, 1872; 
Pac. New*, Dec. 26, 1850; S. F. Picayune, Dec. 18, 1850. The Cumberland 
Co. was a trading association of 50 men, subscribing $500 each. Most of the 
emigrants, however, combined merely for defence and aid during the journey 
in a train known by the name of the captain elected to direct it. Instance 
the parties under Egans, Owens, Aired, Gully, Knapp, H. S. Brown, Latham, 
Parson, Townsend or Rough and Ready, Lee, Sullenger, Taylor, Staples, 
Word, Cooper, Barrow, Thorne-Beckwith, Stuart, etc. References in Ash 
ley s Doc. J/ist. Cal., MS., 271-377, 395-6; Miscel. Stat., MS., 1 et seq.; 
Morgan s Trip, MS., 3-14; Kirkpatrick s Journal, MS., 3 et seq.; Brown s 
Stat ., MS , 1-11; S. F. Bulletin, Sept. 18, 1860; Pearson s RecoL, MS., 1-2; 
Nevada and Gra*s Valley Directory, 1856, 43; Dameron s Antobioy., MS., 19; 
Placer Times, Aug. 11, 1849, etc.; Grass Valley Rep., Mar. 8, 1872; Staples 
Stat., MS., 1-7; Vallejo Indep., June 1-8, 1872; Hayes Diary, MS., 8-110; 
Harrow s Twelve Nights, 165-268; U. S. Gov. >oc./31st cong. 2d sess.>, Sen. 
Doc. 19, p. 15. 

^The long geared prairie schooner differed from the square-bodied wagons 
of the north-west, in its peculiar widening from the bottom upward. See 
description in Hutchinys May., iv. 351. 


diggings!" and presented within, beneath the yet clean 
white canvass cover, a cosey retreat for the family. 
Heavy conveyances were provided with three yoke 
of oxen, besides relays of animals for difficult passages; 
a needful precaution; for California as well as the in 
termediate country being regarded as a wilderness, 
the prudent ones had brought ample supplies, some 
indeed, in excess, to last for two years. Others car 
ried all sorts of merchandise, in the illusive hope of 
sales at large profits. Consequently such of the men 
as had not riding animals were compelled to walk, 
and during the first part of the journey even the women 
and children could not always find room in the wagons. 3 
Later, as one article after another was thrown away 
to lighten the load, regard for the jaded beasts made 
walking more complusory than ever. 

It seemed a pity to drag so many women and their 
charges from comfortable homes to face the dangers 
and hardships of such a journey. As for the men, 
they were as a rule hardy farmers or sturdy young 
villagers, better fitted as a class for pioneers than the 
crowd departing by sea; and appearances confirmed 
the impression in the predominance of hunting and 
rough backwoods garbs, of canvas jackets or colored 
woollen shirts, with a large knife and pistols at the belt, 
a rifle slung to the back, and a lasso at the saddle- 
horn, the most bristling arsenal being displayed by 
the mild-mannered and timid.* There was ample op 
portunity to test their quality, even at the rendezvous, 
for animals were to be broken, wagons repaired and 
loaded, and drill acquired for the possible savage war 

3 Men, women, and children, even women with infants at their breasts, 
trudging along on foot. St Louis Union, May 25, 1849. We were nearly 
all afoot, and there were no seats in the wagons. Hittell s speech before 
the pioneers. Many preferred walking to jolting over the prairie. 

* Indignant at the frequent allusions to Spanish-Californians as half -civil 
ized Indians, Vallejo points to some of the Missourian backwoodsmen as more 
resembling Indians in habits as well as uncouth appearance. Vallejo, Docs, 
MS., xxx vi. 287. The western states were almost depopulated by the exodus, 
says Borthwick; Three Years in Gal., 2-3. 


The gathering began early in April, and by the end 
of the month some 20,000, representing every town 
and village in the States, were encamped on the fron 
tier, making their final preparations, and waiting until 
the grass on the plains should be high enough to feed 
the animals. At the opening of May the grand pro 
cession started, and from then till the beginning of 
June company after company left the frontier, till the 
trail from the starting-point to Fort Laramie pre 
sented one long line of pack-trains and wagons. Along 
some sections of the road the stream was unbroken 
for miles, 5 and at night, far as the eye could reach, 
camp-fires gleamed like the lights of a distant city. 
"The rich meadows of the Nebraska or Platte," writes 
Bayard Taylor, "were settled for the time, and a single 
traveller could have journeyed for 1,000 miles, as cer 
tain of his lodging and regular meals as if he were 
riding through the old agricultural districts of the 
middle states." 

For a while there is little to check the happy antici 
pations formed during the excitement, and sustained by 
the well-filled larders and a new country; and so, with 
many an interchange of chat and repartee, between 
the bellowing and shouting of animals and men, and 
the snapping of whips, the motley string of pedestrians 
and horsemen advances by the side of the creaking 
wagons. Occasionally a wayside spring or brook pro 
longs the midday halt of the more sober-minded, 
while others hasten on to fill the gap. Admonished 
by declining day, the long line breaks into groups, 
which gather about five o clock at the spots selected 
to camp for the night. The wagons roll into a circle, 
or on a river bank in semicircle, to form a bulwark 
against a possible foe, and a corral for the animals 

5 Thursday, June 8th. Met a man whose train was on ahead, who told 
us that he had counted 459 teams within nine miles. When we started after 
dinner there were 150 that appeared to be in one train. . .Friday, June 23d. 
Passed the upper Platte ferry. The ferryman told me he had crossed 900 
teams, and judged that there were about 1,500 on the road ahead of us. Yet 
siill they come. KirkpatricVs Journal, MS., 14, 16. 



now turned loose to graze and rest. Tents unfold, 
fires blaze, and all is bustle; women cooking, and men 
tending and tinkering. Then conies a lull; the meal 
over, the untrammelled flames shoot aloft, pressing 
farther back the flitting shadows, and finding reflec 
tion in groups of contented faces, moving in sympathy 
to the changing phases of some story, or to the strains 
of song and music. 6 The flames subside; a hush falls 
on the scene; the last figures steal away under tent 
and cover, save two, the sentinels, who stalk around 
to guard against surprise, and to watch the now pick 
eted animals, till relieved at midnight. With the 
first streaks of dawn a man is called from each wagon 


to move the beasts to better feed. Not long after 
four o clock all are astir, and busy breakfasting and 
preparing to start. Tents are struck, and horses har 
nessed, and at six the march is taken up again. 

Not until the River Platte is reached, some ten or 
fifteen days out, does perfect order and routine reign. 
The monotonous following of this stream wears away 
that novelty which to the uninitiated seems to demand 
a change of programme for every day s proceedings, 
and about this point each caravan falls into ways of 
its own, and usually so continues to the end of the 
journey, under the supervision of an elected captain 

6 Specimen of emigrant song in Walton s Gold Regions, 28-32; Stillmaiis 
Golden Fleece, 23-4. 


and his staff. Harmony is often broken, however, at 
one time on the score of route and routine, at another 
in the enforcement of regulations; and even if the 
latter be overcome by amendments and change of 
officers, enough objections may remain to cause the 
split of a party. Associates quarrel and separate ; the 
hired man, finding himself master of the situation, 
grows insolent and rides on, leaving his employer be 
hind. The sameness of things often palls as days and 
months pass away and no sign of human habitation 
appears; then, again, the changes from prairies where 
the high grass half covers the caravan to sterile plain, 
from warm pleasant valleys to bleak and almost im 
passable mountains, and thence down into miasmatic 
swamps with miry stretches, and afterward sandy 
sinks and forbidding alkali wastes and salt flats baked 
and cracked by sun, and stifling with heat and dust; 
through drenching rains and flooded lowlands, and 
across the sweeping river currents and all with occa 
sional chilling blasts, suffocating simoons, and constant 
fear of savages. 

This and more had the overland travellers to en 
counter in greater or less degree during their jaunt 
of 2,000 miles and more. Yet, after all, it was not 
always hard and horrible. There was much that was 
enjoyable, particularly to persons in health bright 
skies, exhilarating air, and high anticipations. For 
romance as well as danger the overland journey was 
not behind the voyage by sea, notwithstanding the 
several changes in the latter of climate, lands, and 
peoples. Glimpses of landscapes and society were rare 
from shipboard, and the unvarying limitless water 
became dreary with monotony. Storms and other 
dangers brought little inspiration or reliance to coun 
teract oppressive fear. Man lay here a passive toy 
for the elements. But each route had its attractions 
and discomforts, particularly the latter. 

The Indians in 1849 were not very troublesome. 
The numbers of the pale-faces were so large that they 


did not know what to make of it. So they kept pru 
dently in the background, rarely venturing an attack, 
save upon some solitary hunter or isolated band, with 
an occasional effort at stampeding stock. Some sought 
intercourse with the white rnen, hoping by begging, 
stealing, and offer of services to gain some advantage 
from the transit, nevertheless keeping the suspicious 
emigrants constantly on the alert. 

The Indians opportunity was to come in due time, 
however, after other troubles had run their course. 
The first assumed the terrible form of cholera, which, 
raging on the Atlantic seaboard, ascended the Missis 
sippi, and overtook the emigrants about the time of 
their departure, following them as far as the elevated 
mountain region beyond Fort Laramie. At St Joseph 
and Independence it caused great mortality among 
those who were late in setting out; and for hundreds 
of miles along the road its ravages were recorded by 
newly made graves, sometimes marked by a rough 
head-board, but more often designated only by the 
desecration of wolves and coyotes. The emigrants 
were not prepared to battle with this dreadful foe. 
It is estimated that 5, 000 thus perished; and as many 
of these were the heads of families on the march, the 
affliction was severe. So great was the terror inspired 
that the victims were often left to perish on the road 
side by their panic-stricken companions. On the other 
hand, there were many instances of heroic devotion, of 
men remaining alone with a comrade while the rest of 
the company rushed on to escape contagion, and nurs 
ing him to his recovery, to be in turn stricken down 
and nursed by him whose life had been saved. It 
seemed as if the scourge had been sent upon them by 
a divinity incensed at their thirst for gold, and some 
of the more superstitious of the emigrants saw therein 
the hand of Providence, and returned. To persons 
thus disposed, that must have been a spectacle of 
dreadful import witnessed by Cassin and his party. 
They were a few days out from Independence; the 


cholera was at its height, when one day they saw afar 
off, and apparently walking in the clouds, a procession 
of men bearing aloft a coffin. It was only a mirage, 
the reflection of a funeral taking place a day s journey 
distant, but to the beholders it was an omen of their 
fate set up in the heavens as a warning. 

Thus it was even in the route along the banks of 
the Platte, where meadows and springs had tempted 
the cattle, and antelopes and wild turkeys led on the 
yet spirited hunter to herds of buffalo and stately 
elk; for here was the game region. This river was 
usually struck at Grand Island, and followed with 
many a struggle through the marshy ground to the 
south branch, fordable at certain points and seasons, at 
others crossed by ferriage, on rafts or canoes lashed 
together, 7 with frequent accidents. Hence the route 
led along the north branch from Ash Hollow to Fort 
Laramie, the western outpost of the United States, 8 
and across the barren Black Hill country, or by the 
river bend, up the Sweetwater tributary into the 
south pass of the Rocky Mountains. The ascent is 
almost imperceptible, and ere the emigrant is aware 
of having crossed the central ridge of tho continent, 
he finds himself at the head of the Pacific water sys 
tem, at Green River, marked by a butte of singular 
formation, like a ruined edifice with majestic dome and 

The next point was Fort Hall, 9 at the junction of 

7 Calked wagon-beds and sheet-iron boats were brought into service. 
Within our hearing to-day twelve men have found a watery grave, writes 
Kirkpatrick, Journal, MS., 16, at Platte ferry, June 21, 1849; see also Cas- 
sin s A Few Facts on Cat., MS., 2; Brown s Early Days in Cat., MS., 3-4. 

8 For forts on this route, see Hist. B. C., this series; U. S. Gov. Doc., 
31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc., v. pt i. 224. Many desertions took place 
from the garrison. Coke s Ride, 156. The first company arrived here May 
22d; cholera was disappearing, the Crows were watching to carry off cattle. 
Placer Times, Oct. 13, 1849. One emigrant journal shows that it took fully 
six weeks to traverse the 670 miles between Independence and this fort. 

9 The fort was reached by two routes from the south pass, the more direct, 
Subletted cut-off, crossed the head waters of the Sandy and down Bear River 
to its junction with the Thomas branch. The other followed the Sandy to 
Green River; crossed this and the ridge to Fort Bridger; thence across the 
Muddy Fork and other Green River tributaries into Bear River Valley, and 


the Oregon trail, whence the route led along Snake 
River Valley to the north of Goose Creek Mountains, 
and up this stream 10 to the head waters of the Hum- 
boldt, also called Mary and Ogden River. This was 
followed along its entire length to the lake or sink 
into which it disappears. It was hereabout that the 
emigrants were the most frequently driven to extrem 
ity. Long since the strain and hardships of the 
journey had claimed their victims. Many a man, 
undaunted by the cholera and the heavy march 
through the Platte country, abandoning one portion 
after another of his effects, after a dozen unloadings 
and reloadings and toilsome extrications and mount 
ings within as many hours; undaunted, even, on 
approaching the summit of the continent, lost his zeal 
and courage on nearing the Sierra Nevada, and with 
his gold fever abated, he turned back to nurse con 
tentment in his lately abandoned home. 11 Many, 
indeed, tired and discouraged, with animals thinned in 
number and exhausted, halted at Great Salt Lake, ac 
cepting the invitation of the Mormons to stay through 
the winter and recuperate. 12 The saints undoubtedly 

north to the Thomas branch. Hence the reunited trails reached Fort Hall 
by way of Portneuf River. 

10 Toward the end of 1849 or beginning of 1850 a trail was opened from Bear 
River across the head waters of the Bannock, Fall, and Raft tributaries of Snake 
River, meeting the other trail at the head of Goose Creek. Delano s Life on 
Plains, 138. Another important branch of the route, so sadly recorded by the 
Donuer company of 1846, and tit rather for lightly equipped parties with pack- 
animals than for wagons, was the Hastings road. It started from Fort Bridger, 
passed round the southern end of Great Salt Lake, crossed the desert, and 
proceeded in a westerly direction till the east Humboldt Mountains were 
struck at Franklin River; there it turned abruptly, passing round the 
southern end of the range, and followed the south branch of the Humboldt 
down to the main river. Bryant, What I Saw in Cat., i. 142-3, passed over it 
successfully in 1846. The Mormons established ferries at Weber and Bear 
rivers, charging $5 or $8 for each team. Slater s Mormonism, 6. 

n Placer Times, Oct. 13, 1849, alludes to many returns, even from Lar- 
amie. B. F. Dowell, Letters, MS., 3, bought a horse from one who turned 
back after having travelled 700 miles; he had seen the elephant, and eaten 
its ears. 

12 Instance Morgan, Trip 1840, 14-17. The number wintering in 1850-1 
was large, from 800 to 1,000, says Slater. Mormonixm, 5-12, 37; who adds 
that the Mormons withheld or reduced wages and supplies, so that many suf 
fered and were even unable to proceed on their journey. Charges to this 
effect were published in Sac. Union, June 28, 1851; but they should be taken 
with due allowance. Staples, lucid., MS., 2-3, accuses the Mormons of mani 
festing their hatred for Missourians. 


reaped a harvest in cheap labor, and by the ready 
exchange of provisions to starving emigrants for 
wagons, tools, clothing, arid other effects, greatly to 
the delight of the leaders, who, at the first sight of 
gold from California, had prophesied plenty, and the 
sale of States goods at prices as low as in the east. 13 
Others, eager as ever, and restive under the frequent 
delays and slow progress of the ox trains, would hasten 
onward in small parties, perhaps alone, perchance 
tempted into the numerous pitfalls known as cut 
offs, to be lost in the desert, overcome by heat and 
thirst, or stricken down by furtively pursuing savages, 
whose boldness increased as the emigrant force became 
weak. 14 

But how insignificant appear the sufferings of the 
men in comparison with those of the women and chil 
dren, driven after a long and toilsome journey into a 
desert of alkali. And here the dumb brutes suffer as 
never before. There are drifts of ashy earth in these 
flats in which the cattle sink to their bellies, and go 
moaning along their way midst a cloud of dust and 
beneath a broiling sun, while just beyond are fantas 
tic visions of shady groves and bubbling springs; for 
this is the region of mirage, and not far off the desert 
extends into the terrible Valley of Death, accursed 
to all living things, its atmosphere destructive even 
to the passing bird. Many are now weakened by 
scurvy, fever, and exhaustion. There are no longer 
surplus relays. The remnant of animals is all pressed 
into service, horse and cow being sometimes yoked 
together. The load is still further lightened to re- 

13 Thus had spoken Heber C. Kimball, when the Mormon gold-finders 
arrived from California, although he doubted his own words the next 
moment. Yet it was the best prophetic hit of his life. Tullidye s Life of 
Younfj, 203-8. 

14 Seven emigrants were surprised in the Klamath region by 200 Indians, 
and six cut down. Lord, Naturalist, 271, found bones and half-burned wagons 
near Yreka ten years later. Instance also in U. 8. Gov. Doc., 31st cong. 2d 
sess. , Sen. Doc. 19, iii. 12. More than one solitary traveller is spoken of. 
See QuvjW* Ir ^ h Rac ^ 216 5 Sac - Bee > Oct - 3 18 "0- One wheeled his bag 
gage in a barrow at the pace of 25 miles a day, passing many who travelled 
with animals. Coke 1 * Ride, 166; Solano Co. Hist., 368-9. 



lieve the jaded teams. Even feeble women must 
walk. The entire line is strewn with dead animals 
arid abandoned effects. Vultures and coyotes hover 
ominously along the trail. Gloomy nights are followed 
by a dawn of fresh suffering. Now and then some 
one succumbs, and in despair bids the rest fly and 

:*$ I \ 

? e^ \ \ o 

!"Jf. *mmr ia* Vl^eur 

f M /rfc;^"*--- ^ -t- ^. (v 


leave him to his fate. Some of the trains come to a 
stop, and the wagons are abandoned, while the ani 
mals are ridden or driven forward. 15 

15 The passage of this, desert was but a narrow stretch, from two to four 
score miles, according to the direction taken, but was very severe, especially 
to wanderers worn out and stricken with disease. Instances of suffering 


The suffering in 1849 fell chiefly upon the later ar 
rivals, when water was scarce and the little grass left 
by the earlier caravans had dried up. The savages, 
too, became troublesome. Several relief parties went 
out from the mines. In 1850 the suffering was more 
severe throughout, partly from the over-confidence 
created by the news of well-stocked markets in Cali 
fornia, which led to the wasteful sacrifice of stores on 
the way by the overloaded caravans of 1849, and of 
the scarcity of supplies at the Mormon way-station. 
Hence many started with scanty supplies and poorer 
animals. The overflow of the Humboldt drove the 
trains to the barren uplands, lengthening the jour 
ney and starving the beasts. So many oxen and 
horses perished in the fatal sink that the effluvia 
revived the cholera, arid sent it to ravage the enfeebled 
crowds which escaped into Sacramento Valley. Be 
hind them on the plains were still thousands, battling 
not alone with this and other scourges, but with fam 
ine and cold, for snow fell early and massed in heavy 
drifts. Tales of distress were brought by each arrival, 
told not in words only, but by the blanched and hag 
gard features, until California was filled with pity, 
and the government combined with the miners and 
other self-sacrificing men in efforts for the relief of the 
sufferers. Carried by parties in all directions across 
the mountains and through the snow, 16 train after 
train was saved; yet so many were the sufferers that 
only a comparatively small number could be much 
relieved. Emaciated men, carrying infants crying for 

abound in the journals of the time. Alta CaL, Dec. 15, 1849, et seq.; Placer 
Times of 1849; S. F. Herald, Pac. News, Sac. Union, etc., of following years. 
Duncan s Southern Region, MS., 1-2. See following note. 

16 During this year, 1849, the authorities appropriated $100,000 for relief, 
and troops passed eastward with supplies, partly under Maj. Rucker. See 
reports in U. S. Oov. Doc., 31st cong. 1st sess., Sen. Doc. 52, xiii. 94-154; Id., 
30th cong. 2d sess., Acts and Resol., 155; Smith s Kept, in Tyson s Geol., 84. 
The public also subscribed liberally. Plcer Times, Sept. 15, 1849; Sherman s 
Mem., i. 80. In 1850 the public made even greater efforts in all directions, 
and Capt. Waldo headed one relief train. Upkam s Note*, 351-2; Gal. Jour. 
Srn., 1851, 607-10; Sac. Transcript, Sept. 23, 1850, etc. Appeals for subscrip 
tions and responses are given in all the journals of the time. See next note. 


food, stopped to feed on the putrefying carcasses lining 
the road, or to drink from alkaline pools, only to in 
crease their misery, and finally end in suicide. 17 "The 
suffering is unparalleled," cry several journals in Sep 
tember 1850, in their appeal for relief ; nine tenths of 
the emigrants were on foot, without food or money; 
not half of their oxen, not one fourth of their horses, 
survived to cross the mountains, and beyond the desert 
were still 20,000 souls, the greater part of whom were 
destitute. 18 

After escaping from the desert, the emigrant had 
still to encounter the difficult passage of the Sierra 
Nevada, so dangerous after snow began to fall, as 
instanced by the terrible fate of the Donner party in 
1846. Of the several roads, the most direct was along 
Truckee River to its source in the lake of that name, 

1T On the Humboldt, says Delano, Life, 238-9, three men and two women 
drowned themselves in one day. 

18 The report of the Waldo relief party, in Sac. Transcript, Sept. 23, 1850, 
stated that large supplies from Marysville had failed to pass beyond Bear 
Valley, west of the Sierra, owing to the animals failing. At the lower 
Truckee crossing beef had been deposited, and a number of stout animals 
sent to carry sick emigrants across the desert. Several starving men were 
encountered, and the dead bodies of others who had succumbed. Few were 
found with provisions, save their exhausted teams; one fourth, having no 
animals, lived on the putrefying carcasses, thus absorbing disease. Cholera 
broke out Sept. 8th, in one small train, carrying off eight persons in three 
hours, several more being expected to die. From the sink westward the 
havoc was fearful. Indians added to the misery by stealing animals. Of 
20,000 emigrants still back of the desert, fully 15,000 were destitute, and their 
greatest suffering was to come; half of them could not reach the mountains 
before winter; from 5,000 to 8,000 Ibs of beef were issued daily; flour was 
furnished only to the sick. Those yet at the head of the Humboldt were to 
be warned to turn back to Great Salt Lake. Similar accounts in earlier and 
later numbers. Id., July 26, Aug. 16, Sept. 30, 1850, Feb. 1, 14, 1851, etc. 
Owing to the number of applicants, relief rations had to be reduced. Id., 
Steamer eds. of Aug. 30th, Oct. 14th. Barstow, Stat., MS., 12-13, who went 
out with provisions, declares that he could almost step from one abandoned 
wagon and carcass to another. See further accounts in Mixed. Stat. ; Shearer s 
Jourii d, MS., 1-3; Connor s Stat., MS., 4-5; DoweWs Letters, MS., 1-34; 
Sherwood s Pocket Guide, 47-64; Picayune, Aug. 21, Sept. 3-4, 12, 1850; .V. 
F. four., July 13, 24, Aug. 9, 17, 20, 26, 1850; S. F. Herald, July 13, 27-9, 
Aug. 21-2, 1850; Deseret News, Oct. 5, 1850; Alta Cal, Dec. 17, 1850; Del 
ano s Life on Plains, 234-42; Pac. News, Aug. 21-2, 24, 1850; Sac. Bee, Dec. 
7, 1867; Beadle s Western Wilds, 38-40; Aljers Youug Adven., 185, etc.; Los 
Angeles Rep., Feb. 28, Mar. 14, 1878; Brown * Early Day*, MS., 2-4, 7 
Devoted men like Waldo, who so freely offered themselves and their means 
for the relief of the sufferers, cannot be too highly praised and remembered 
by Californians. 


and thence down the Yuba to Feather and Sacramento 
rivers. 19 The route so far described, by way of the 

19 Through Henness pass. A trail branched by Dormer Lake along the 
north branch of the American. The most northern route, Lassen s, turned 
from the great bend of the Humboldt north-west to Goose Lake, there to swing 
southward by the Oregon trail along Pit River and Honey Lake into the Sac 
ramento Valley. Hostile Indians, and snow, and greater extent of desert 
combined to give this the name of the Death Route, so that few followed it 
after the early part of 1849. YrekaJour., Feb. 18, 1871. A branch from ib 
struck across Upper Mud Lake toward Honey Lake. Below Truckee ran the 
Carson River route, turning south of Lake Tahoe through Johnson Pass and 
down the south fork of American River. A branch turned to the west fork 
of Walker River through Sonora pass and Sonora to Stockton. The main 
route from the east is well described in a little emigrant s guide-book pub 
lished by J. E. Ware. After giving the intending emigrant instructions as 
to his outfit, estimates of expense, directions for forming camp, etc., the 
author follows the entire route from one camping-place or prominent point to 
the next, describes the intervening road and river crossings, points out where 
fuel and water can be obtained, and gives distances as well as he can. I:i 
1849 Ware set out for Cal., was taken ill east of Laramie, and heartlessly 
abandoned by his companions, and thus perished miserably. Delano says he 
was formerly from Galena, but known in St Louis as a writer. Life on the 
Plains, 163. Alonzo Delano was born at Aurora, N. Y. , July 2, 1806, and came 
to Cal. by the Lassen route in 1849, and of his journey published a minute 
account. After working in the placers for some time he went to S. F. and 
opened a produce store. In the autumn of 1851 he engaged in quartz-mining 
at Grass Valley, which was thenceforward his home. A year or two later he 
became superintendent of the Nevada Company s mill and mine, and then 
agent of Adams & Co. s express and banking office. In Feb. 1855 he opened 
a banking-house of his own. In his position of agent for Adams & Co. at 
Grass Valley, he received orders to pay out no money either on public or pri 
vate deposits, which orders he did not obey; but calling the depositors to 
gether, he read his instructions and said: Come, men, and get your deposits; 
you shall have what is yours so long as there is a dollar in the safe. Five 
days later, on Feb. 20th, Delano opened a banking-house of his own; and so 
great was the confidence placed in his integrity that within 24 hours he re 
ceived more money on deposit than he had ever held as agent for Adams & 
Co. From that time on he led a successful and honored career as a banker 
until the day of his death, which occurred at Grass Valley Sept. 8, 1874. 
For further particulars, see Grass Valley Foothill Tidings, Nov. 21, 1874; 
Grass Valley Union, Sept. 10, 1874; Truckee Republican, Sept. 10, 1874; Sta 
Barbara Index, Sept. 24, 1874; Portland Bulletin, Oct. 7, 1874; S. F. Alt-i, 
Sept. 11, 1874. But it was as an author, not as a banker, that Delano was 
best known to the early Californians, and, by one of his books at least, to the 
wider world. This work, a vol. of some 400 pages, is an account of his jour 
ney overland to Cal., and embodies much information about early times in 
Cal., especially in the mining regions and small towns. Its title is: Life on 
the Plains and among the Diggings; being Scenes and Adventures of an Over 
land Journey to California: with Particular Incidents of the Route, Mistakes 
and Sufferings of the Emigrants, the Indian Tribes, the Present and the Future 
of the Great Wext. Aulmrn, 1^4, and N. Y., 1861. The portion relatingto the 
journey was written as a journal, in which the incidents of each day, the kind 
of country passed through, and the probable distance accomplished were 
noted. What does not relate to the immigration is more sketchy, but stiil 
valuable and accurate. Although Delano s most ambitious book, it was not 
his first. During the earlier years of residence in his adopted country he 
contributed a number of short humorous sketches illustrative of Cal. life 
to the various periodicals. These fugitive pieces were collected and pub- 


Rocky Mountain South Pass and Humboldt River, 
known as the northern, received by far the largest 
proportion of travel; the next in importance, the 
southern, led from Independence by the caravan trail 

_ _ * ** 

to Santa Fe, thence to deviate in different directions: 
by the old Spanish trail round the north banks of the 
Colorado, crossing Rio Virgenes to Mojave River and 
desert, and through Cajon Pass to Los Angeles; by 
General Kearny s line of march through Arizona, 
along the Gila; by that of Colonel Cooke down the Rio 
Grande and westward across the Sonora table-land to 
Yuma. Others passed through Texas, Coahuila, and 
Chihuahua into Arizona, while riot a few went by sea 
to Tampico and Vera Cruz, and thence across the con 
tinent to Mazatlan or other Mexican seaport to seek a 
steamer or sailing vessel, or even through Nicaragua, 
which soon sprang into prominence as a rival point of 
transit to the Isthmus. 20 Snow at least proving no 

lished at Sacramento, in a volume of 112 pp., under the title of Penknife 
Sketches; or Chips of the. Old Block; a series of original illustrated letters, writ 
ten by one of California s pioneer miners, and dedicated to that class of her cit 
izens by the author. Sac., 1853. A second edition, sixteenth thousand, was 
published in 1854, price one dollar. Like the cuts designed by Charles Nahl, 
which ornament this book, the humor of the author is of a rough and ready 
nature, but it is genial and withal graphic. The Sketches are the overflowing 
of a merry heart, which no hard times could depress, and through all their 
burlesque it is evident that the writer had a discerning and appreciative eye 
for the many strange phases which his new life presented. More famous 
humorists have arisen in California since the time of Old Block, his chosen 
nom de plume; but as the first of the tribe, so he was the most faithful in 
depicting life in the flush times. His California Sketch- Book is similar in na 
ture to the Penknife Sketches. Besides his purely humorous pieces, Delano 
wrote a number of tales which appeared in the Hesperian and Ilutchinrjs 1 
magazines, as well as some plays, which it is said were put upon the stage. 
See the Grass Valley Foothill Tidings, Nov. 21, 1874. In 1868 he published 
at S. F. The Central Pacific, or 49 and 69, by Old Block, a pamphlet of 24 
pp., comparing the modes of traversing the continent at the two dates men 

20 The new Mexican routes have received full attention in the preceding 
volumes of this series, Hist. CaL, in connection with Hispano-Mexican inter 
course between New Mexico and CaL, with trapper roamings and the march 
overland of U. S. troops in 1846-7. Taylor, Eldorado, 131, speaks of Yuma 
attacks on Arizona passengers. See also records and references in the Alto, 
CaL, June 25, 1850, and other journals and dates, as in a preceding note; also 
Hayes 1 Life, MS., 69 et seq. ; Id., in Misc. Hist. Pup., doc. 27, p. 35-6, 45, 
et seq. ; Hayes Emig. Notes, MS., 415, with list of his party; Id., Diary, MS., 
56; Soule s Stat., MS., 1 etseq.; Say ward s Slat., MS., 2-5; Perry s Travels, 
14-69, and Woods Sixteen Months, 3 et seq., recording troubles and exactions 
of Mexican trips via Mazatlan and San Bias. So in Overland, xv. 241-8, on 


material obstruction along the more southerly routes, 
a fair proportion of emigrants from the United States 
had availed themselves of the outlet for an earlier 
start, 21 and some 8, 000, entered California from this 
quarter, including many Hispano- Americans, the lat 
ter pouring in, moreover, throughout the winter 
months by way of Sonora and Chihuahua. 

The number of gold-seekers who reached California 
from all sources during the year 1849 can be esti 
mated only approximately. The most generally ac 
cepted statement, by a committee of the California 
constitutional convention, places the population at 
the close of 1849 at 106,000, which, as compared with 
the census figure, six months later, of about 112,000, 
exclusive of Indians, 22 appears excessive. But the 
census was taken under circumstances not favorable 
to accuracy, and the preceding estimate may be re 
garded as equally near the truth, although some of 
the details are questionable. 23 

the San Bias route. The steamer California took on board at Acapulco, in 
July 1849, a party of destitute Americans, assisted by the passengers. Santa 
Cruz Times, Feb. 26, 1870. Rond6 met five unarmed Frenchmen hauling a 
hand wagon through Chihuahua. Charton, Tour du Hfonde, iv. 160; Southern 
Quart. Rev. , x v. 224 et seq. In Sherwood s Guide, 57-8, is mentioned a fantastic 
balloon route by the patent aerial steam float of R. Porter, to carry passen 
gers at $100, including board and a precautionary return ticket; the trip to 
be made in four or five days! 

21 The fear of Mexican hostility, the comparatively inferior knowledge of 
this route, and its apparent roundabout turn made it less popular, at least 
north of the southern states. 

22 The total is 92,597 for all except three counties Santa Clara, S. F., and 
Contra Costa, the returns for which were lost. U. S. Seventh Census, 966 et 
seq. Comparison with the state census of 1852 permits an estimate for these 
three of not over 19,500, whereof 16,500 were for S. F. town and county. The 
Annals of S. F., 244, assumes 20,000 or even 25,000; others vary between 
7,000 and 20,000 for S. F. city at the close of 1849, and as a large number of 
miners and others were then wintering there, the population must have 
fallen greatly by the time of taking the census. In July and Aug. 1849 
the city had only 5,000 or 6,000. The influx by sea during the first six 
months of 1850 is reported by the S. F. custom-house at 24,288, whereof 
16,472 were Americans. U. S. Gov. Doc., 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 
16, iv. 44-5. By deducting this figure and balancing departures with the 
influx from Mexico the total at the end of 1849 would be nearly 90,000. 

23 For instance, the population at the end of 1848 is placed by the com 
mittee at 215,000, of whom 13,000 were Californians, 8,000 Americans, and 
5,000 foreigners. I estimate from the archives the native California!) ele 
ment at little over 7,500 at the same period; 8,000 Americans is an admis- 


I prefer, therefore, to place the number of white in 
habitants at the close of 1849 at riot over 100,000, 
accepting the estimated influx by sea of 39,000, of 
which about 23,000 were Americans, and 42,000 over 
land, of which 9,000 were from Mexico, 8,000 coming 
through New Mexico, and 25,000 by way of the South 
Pass and Humboldt River. Of this number a few 
thousand, especially Mexicans, returned the same year, 
leaving a population that approached 95, 000. r 


sible figure, including the Oregon influx, but 5,000 foreigners is somewhat 
excessive, as may be judged from my notes in preceding chapters on Mexican 
and other immigration. Indians are evidently excluded in all estimates. 
The other figures for the influx during 1849 appear near enough. They may 
be consulted as original or quoted estimates, among other works, in Mayer s 
Mex. Aztec, ii. 393; Siillman s Golden Fleece, 32; hitteWs Hist. S. F., 139-40. 
"About half-way between the federal estimates and those of the convention. 
The tendency of the latter was naturally to give the highest reasonable figures, 
and the wonder is that it did not swell them with Indian totals. Such ex 
citing episodes as the gold rush are moreover apt to produce exaggeration 
everywhere. Thus a widely accepted calculation, as reproduced in Cal. Past 
and Present, 146-7, roaches 200,000, based on Larkin s report of 46,000 ar 
rived by July 1849, and on calculations from Laramie of 56,000 passing there. 
A still larger number came by sea, say 100,000, all Americans, so that 
nearly 200,000 arrived, and in 1850 there would be more than 500,000 new 
arrivals from tho U. S. ! Even the Report, 15, of the govt agent, T. B. King, 
assumes loosely the arrival in 1849 of 80,000 Americans and 20,000 foreigners. 
U. S. Gov. Doc., 31st cong. 1st sess., H. Ex. Doc. 59, 7. And Hittell, Hint. 
S. F., 13940, 155-6, so excessively cautious in some respects, not allowing 
over 8,000 inhabitants to S. F. in Nov. 1849, assigns 30,000 in June 1850 to 
three counties lacking in the census, of which about 25,000 must be meant for 
S. F., and so reaches a total of 122,000, while accepting the 100,000 estimate 
for 1849. Tho investigations of J. Coolidge of the Merchants Exchange in 
dicated arrivals at S. F. from March 31 to Dec. 31, 1849, of 30,675, excluding 
deserters; 12,237 coming from U. S. ports via Cape Horn, 6,000 via Panama, 
2,600 via San Bias and Mazatlan, the rest from other quarters. Figures in 
Niles* Reg., Ixxxv. 113, 127, 288, give 3,547 passengers for Chagres by April 
1849; overland influx, adds Sac. Record, Mar. 28, 1874, probably exceeded 
that by sea twofold. In a letter to the St Louis Rep. of June 10, 1849, from 
Fort Kearny, it was said that 5,095 wagons had passed; about 1,000 more 
left behind, and many turning back daily. There are 5,000 or 6,OuO wagons 
on the way. Alta CaL, Aug. 2, 1849. See also Placer Timi s, May 26, Oct. 13, 
1849, etc. Kirkpatrick, Journal, MS., 14-16, states, on the other hand, that 
only 1,500 teams were supposed to be on the road between Platte ferry and 
Cal. during the latter half of June. The Santa Fe and South Pass arrivals 
embrace some Hispano- Americans and Oregonians. For further speculations 
on numbers I refer to Williams Rec. Early Days, MS., 10; Barstow s Stat., 
MS., 13; Abbey s Trip, 5, 26, 56; S. F. Directory, 1852-3, 10-11, 15; Pioneer 
Arch., 182-3; Larkin s Doc., MS., vi. 203; Taylor** Eldorado, ii. cap. iv.; 
8imonin, Grand Quest, 290; Janxsens, Vida y Av., MS., 209-10; Annals S. F. 
133, 244, 356, 484; Polynesian, vi. 74, 86-7; Sac. Directory, 1871, 36; Niks 
Reg., Ixxv. 113, 127, 288, 320, 348, 383; Home Miss., xxii. 44; S. F. Pac. 
News, Dec. 22, 27, 1849; Apr. 30; May 2, 8, 21, 24, 1850; Alta CaL, July 2, 
Dec. 15, 1849; May 24, 1850; S. F. Hernld, Nov. 15, 1850; Jan. 21, 1854; 
Boston Traveler, March 18,30; St Louis Anzeiger, Apr. 1850; S. F. Bulletin, 


The advance parties of the Rocky Mountain migra 
tion began to arrive in the Sacramento Valley toward 
the end of July, after which a steady stream came 
pouring in. They were bewildered and unsettled for 
a while under the novelty of their surroundings, for 
the rough flimsy camps and upturned, debris-strewn 
river banks, as if convulsed by nature, accorded little 
with the pictured paradise; but kind greeting and aid 
came from all sides to light up their haggard faces, 
and before the prospect of unfolding riches all past 
toil and danger faded like a gloomy dream. Even 
the cattle, broken in spirit, felt the reviving influence 
of the goal attained. 25 To many the visions of wealth 
which began anew to haunt their fancy proved only a 
reflection of the lately mocking mirages of the desert, 
till sober thought and strength came to reveal other 
fields of labor, whence they might wrest more surely 
though slowly the fortune withheld by fickle chance. 
And here the overland immigrants as a mass had the 
advantage, coming as they did from the small towns, 
the villages, and the farms of the interior, or from the 
young settlements on the western frontier. Accus 
tomed to a rugged and simple life, they craved less for 
excitement; arid honest, industrious, thrifty, and self- 
reliant, they could readily fall back upon familiar toil 
and find a potent ally in the soil. A large propor 
tion, indeed, had come to cast their lot in a western 
home. The emigrants by sea, on the other hand, 
speaking broadly and with all due regard to exceptions, 
were pioneers not so natural and befitting to an en- 
Apr. 6, 1868. Arrivals in 1850 will be considered later in connection with 

"Among the first comers was Jas S. Thomas from Platte City. Burnett s 
Rec., MS., ii. 127. The first party of packers reached Sac. about July 18th; 
four wagons were there in Pleasant Valley, 100 miles above. Alta Cat., Ang. 
2, 1849. The hungry and sick received every care, despite the absorbing 
occupation of all and the high cost of food. Sutter aided hundreds. Used 
to open-air camping, many could not endure sleeping in a house for a long 
time. McCall, Great Ccd. Trail, 1-85, left St Joseph May 5th; reached Ft 
Kearny May 29th; Ft Laramie June 18th; Green River July 10th; Hum- 
boldt River Aug. 10th; Truckee River Aug. 29th; and coming down by 
Johnson s Ranch, arrived at Sutter s Sept. 7th. 


tirely new country. They embraced more of the 
abnormal and ephemeral, and a great deal of the 
criminal and vicious, in early California life. They 
might build cities and organize society, but there 
were those among them who made the cities hot 
beds of vice and corruption, and converted the 
social fabric into a body nondescript, at the sight 
of which the rest of the world stood wrapped in 
apprehension. 26 

26 Additional authorities: U. S. Govt Docs, 30 Cong. 1 Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 
1, p. 32; Id., 30 Cong. 2 Sess., U. S. Acts and Resol. 1-155; Id., 31 Cong. 
1 Sess., H. Ex. Doc. 5, pt. i., 224, 429-33; H. Ex. Doc. 17, passim; H. Ex. 
Doc. 52, xiii. 94-154; H. Ex. Doc. 59, 7, 26; Id., 31 Cong. 2 Sess., H. Ex. 
Doc. 1, p. 77, 208; Sen. Doc. 19, iii. 12-15; Id., 32 Cong. 1 Sess., Sen. Doc. 
50, passim; Sen. Doc. 124, pp. 1-222; Mess, and Docs, 1847-8, ii. 955-G; 
WiUces Exp., v. 181; Velasco, Notic. Son., 289, 320-33; Simonin, Grand 
Ouest, 290 et seq.; Shermans Mem., i. passim; Larkin s Docs, iii. 215; vi. 74, 
111, 116, 128, 130, 132, 144, 173, 178, 180, 185, 198, 203, 219; vii. 24, 94; 
Manrows Vig. Committee, MS., 1-67; Hayes 1 Life, MS., 69-70; Id., Diary, 
passim; Id., Scraps Ariz., v. 29; Id., Scraps L. Aug., i. 205; Id., Miscel. Hist. 
Papers, doc. 27; Id., Coll. Mining Cat, i. 1; Id., Coll. Mining, v. 3-12. 85; 
Id., Gal. Notes, i. 101; iii. 153; v. 16, 20, 85; Williams Stit., MS., 1-3, 6-12; 
Yreka Journal, Feb. 18, 1874; Janssens Vida y Avent., 209-10; Kunzel, O ,er- 
califonden; Bigler s Diary of a Mormon, 56-79, 91; Bu/um s Six Montlis, 68-9, 
111-22, 156; Burnett s Recoil., MS., passim; Carson s Early Recoil.; Gillespie s 
Vig. Com., MS., 3-4; Hitchcock s Stat., MS., 1-7; Annals S. F., passim; 
Beadle s West. WMs, 38^0; Blu.come s Vig. Com., MS., 1-2; Connors Early 
CaL, MS., 1-5; Cerruti s Ramblings, 66-7, 94 et seq.; Mollien s Travels Col., 
409-13; Robinson s CaL Gold Region, passim; Stillman s Golden Fleece, 19-32, 
327-52; Stuart s Trip to CaL, 2-3; Tyson s Geol. of CaL, 84; Bolton vs U. S., 
app 88-95; Kirkpatrick s Journal, MS., 3-16; Jenkins U. S. Ex. Exped., 
431-2; The Friend, Honolulu, vii. 21; viii. 28; Kanesville, la, Front Guard, 
July 25, 1849; Petaluma Argus, Apr. 4, 1873; Pan. Star, Feb. 24, 1849; 
Ryckman s, MS., 11, 20; Estrella de Ocad., Nov. 16, 1860; Retes, Por- 
tentosas Riq. Min.; Sac. Direct., 1871, 36; Abbey s Trip across Plains, 5, 26, 
5o; Alger s Young Advent., 185-293; Brooks" Four Months, passim; Bracket s 
U. S. Cdv., 125-7; S. F. Argonaut, passim; Revere s Tour of Duty, 254-6; 
A/., Keel ami Saddle, 151-4; S. F. Whig and Advert., June 11, 1853; Treasury 
ofTrav., 92^; Truckee Tribune, Jan. 8, 1870; Revue des deux Mondes, Feb. 1, 
1849; Broivne s Min. Res., 14-15; Arch. Mont. Co., xiv. 18; Arch. Sta Cruz 
Co., 107; Fay s Hist. Facts, MS.; Dwinelle s Add., 104-12; Doc. Hist. CaL, i. 
505; Diggers Hand Book, 45-53; Henshaw s Stat., MS.; Helper s Land of Gold, 
101; Bortku ick sStat.,MS.,2-5 , Browns Early DaijsofCaL, MS., 1-7; Boyn- 
ton s Stat., MS., 1; Cod mans The Round Trip, 28; Tiffany s Pocket Exch. Guide, 
16; Gilroy Advocate, Apr. 24, 1875; Folsom Telegraph, Sept. 17, 1871; Ferry, 
CaL, 105-6, 306-28; Colusa Sun, March 8, 1873; Bryant s What I Saw in CaL, 
i. 142-3; Ashley s Docs Hist. CaL, 223, 271-396; Antiock Ledger, Dec. 24, 
1870; July 1, 1876; Tuthill s CaL, 234; Thornton s Oregon and CaL, 270; Gold 
Hill Daily News, Apr. 16, 1872; Coke s Ride, 156, 166; FindkCs Stat., MS., 
passim; Dowell s Letters, MS., 1-34; Duncan s Soutfiern Oregon, MS., 1-2; 
l^uigley s Irish Race; Grass Valley Repub., March 8, 1872; Cronise s Nat. 
Wealth, 56-7; Roach s Stat., MS., 1-2; Del Mar s Hist. Precious Met., 258 et 
seq.; Dameron s Autobiog., MS., 19; Taylor s Betw. Gates, 25-30, 61-7, 131; 
Id., El Dorado, i. 26-9, 48; ii. 36, 222-3; Van Allen, in Mixel. Stat., 31; Van- 
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 11 


derbilt, in Miscel Stat., 1, 32-3; Wheaton s Stat., MS., 2-3; Charton, Tour du 
Monde, iv. 1(50; Barnes Or. and Cal, MS., 19, 26; Weik, Cal ^v^e es ist, 29- 
51; Du Hailly, in Rev. des deux Mondes, Feb. 15, 1849; Barrow s Twelve 
Nights, 165-268; Vallejo Recorder, March 14, 1868; Oct. 12, 1869; Woods 
Sixteen Mont/is, passim; Dunbar s Romance, 48, 55-89, 102-6; Ware s Emig. 
Guide, 1-55; Alameda Co. Hist. Atlas, 14; Valle, Doc., 58; Cal. Past and 
Present, 77, 146-7; Castroville Argus, June 12, 19, 1875; Robinson s Stat., MS., 
23-4; Willey s Pers. Mem., MS., 25, 58-75, 111-18; Rons Stat., MS., 1-12; 
Ryan s Pers. Adv., ii. 273-5; /(/., Judges and Grim., 72-9; Pion. Mag., iv. 
380; Oli/mpia Transcript, June 17, 1876; Dept. St. P. (Ang.), viii. 6, 16; 
Dean s Stat., MS., 1-2; Kane, in Miscel. Stat., 7-11; Humboldt Times, March 

7, 1874; Schlagentiveit, Cal., 216; Winans Stat., MS., 1-5, 23-4; Lake Co. 
Bee, March 8, 18/3; Napa Reg., Aug. 1, 1874; McClellan s Golden State, 119- 
46; Barry s Up and Down, 93-7; Schmiedell s Stat., MS., 6; Walton s Facts 
from Gold Regions, 8, 19-32; Crosby s Events in Cal., MS., 13-26; Santa Cruz 
Times, Feb. 19, 26, 1870; 8. F. Times, July 20, 1867; Shearer s Journal, MS., 
1-3, 11; Warren s Dust and Foam, 12-14, 133, 153-6; West Coast Signal, Apr. 
15, 1874; Nev. Co. Hist., 41, 45; Merrill s Stat., MS., 1-3; Alameda Co. Gaz., 
March 8, 1873; March 14, 1874; Jan. 9, May 29, 1875; Barstow s Stat., MS., 
1-4, 14; St Louis Union, May 25, 1849; Cassin s A Few Facts, 1-5, 17-18; 
Dool Mle s Stat., 1-22; Morgan s Trip across the Plains, 1-21; Carver s Travel*, 
122; Cal. Pioneers, Docs, passim; Wilmington Enterprise, Jan. 21, 1875; Say- 
board s Pers. Rem., MS., 2; San Jose Argus, Oct. 16, 1875; Stockton Indep., 
Nov. 1, 1873; Apr. 4, 1874; Jan. 30, Oct. 19, 1875; Low s Stat., MS., 1-5; 
MassetCs Exper. of a 49er, 1-10; Sand. Islands News, ii. 134, 147, 158. 186; 
Hawleti s Observ., MS., 1-3; Sta Cruz Sentinel, July, 15, 1875; Vandykes Stat., 
MS., 1-2, etc.; Soule s Stat., MS., 1-2; Vallejo D. Indep., June 1-8, 1872; 
Staples Stat., MS.; Neall s Vig. Com., MS., 3, 22-4; Coleman s Vig. Com., 
MS., 175-83; Matthewson s Stat., MS., 1; Swan s Trip, 1-3, 13; Lord s B. 
Col. Naturalist, 271; Cent. Amer. Miscel. Docs, 44; Delano s Life on the Plains, 
passim; Home Miss., xxii. 44, 185-6; Soora Book, iv. 174, in Pinart, Coll.; 
Sherwood s Pocket Guide to Gal, 27, 47-64; Sac. Union, Jan. 23, 26, Feb. 13, 
Dec. 30, 1856, etc.; Solano Repub., Sept. 29, 1870; 8. F. Evg Post, July 14, 
1877; Nev. D. Gaz., June 9, 1866; Jan. 20, 22, 1868; Leavitfs Scrap Book; 
Little s Stat., MS., l^t; Cerruti s Rambl mgs, 46; Holinski, La Cal, 144; Vallejo 
Chron., July 25, Oct. 10, 1874; San Jose Mercury, Apr. 28, 1876; Cronine s 
Nat. Wealth, 57; Id., Stat., MS., 1; S niton s Early Exper., MS., 1; South. 
Quart. Rev., xv. 224; Melbourne Mg Herald, Feb. 6, 7, 10, 1849; Stockton D. 
Herald, May 18, 1871; Nevada City and Grass Valley D tr., 1856, 43; L. Ang. 
Repub., Feb. 28, March 14, May 18, 1878; Cal, Adv. Capt. Wife, 18, 20, 
41-2; Sac. Transcript, Oct. 15, 1850; Feb. 1, 1851; Overland Monthly, ix. 
12-13; xii. 343; xv. 241-8; 8. F. Cal. Star, Oct. 1847 to June 1848, passim; 

8. F. Evg Post, Aug. 8, 1883; Mayer s Mex. Azt., ii. 393; Slater s Mormon- 
ism, 5-12, 87; Pfei/ers Sec. Journ., 290; Soc. Mex. Geog., xi. 127-34; San 
Diego Union, July 22, 1874; S. F. Evening Picayune, Aug. 30, Sept. 4, 12, 
Oct. 5, Nov. 27, Dec. 18, 1850; Scherzer s Narr., iii. 425-30; Oakland A lam. 
Co. Gaz., May 29, 1875; Oakland Transcript, Aug. 7, 1872; March 1, 1873; 
June 16, 1876; 8. F. Pat. News, Nov. 1849 to Dec. 1850, passim; S. F. Bulle 
tin, Apr. 9, May 12, 31, July 29, Dec. 2, 1858; Jan. 31, Feb. 12, Apr. 29, 30, 
May 25, June 2, 3, Aug. 15, Sept. 18, 30, Oct. 29, 1859; March 1, 29, 1860; 
Aug. 21, 1862, etc.; Pion. Arch., passim; Pearsons Recoil., MS., 1-2; Preble s 
Hist. Steam Navig., 321-4; S. F. Daily Herald, June 1850 to Feb. 1851, pas 
sim; Solano Co. Hist., 65-6, 154, 3(38-9, 451; San Jose Pioneer, Jan. 27, Feb. 
24, Aug. 4, Dec. 8, 29, 1877; Oct. 9, 1880; Pio Pico, Ti^es, MS., 141-6; 
Hunt s Merch. Mag., xviii. 467-76; xx. 55-64; xxi. 585-6; xxxii. 354-5; Par 
son s Life of Marshall, passim; Californian, 1847-8, passim; McCollum s Cal. 
as I Saw It, 17, 25-6; Perry s Travels, 14-69; First Steamship Pioneers, pas 
sim; Polynesian, v. and vi., passim; vii. 18, 62, 131; Shuck s Scrap Book, 83-4; 
Moore s Pion. Exper., MS., 1; Id., Recoil, of Early Dans, MS., 2; Shasta 
Courier, Nov. 18, 1865; March 16, 1867; Placer Times, Apr. 28, May 19, 26, 


June 2, Aug. 11, Sept. 15, Oct. 13, Dec. 1, 1849; May 22, 1850; S. F. Direc 
tory, 1852 (Parker), 10; Id., 1852-3, 10-14; Sac. Hee, Dec. 7, 1869; Nov. 21, 
1871; March 28, Aug. 27, 1874; July 7, 1875; Nov. 26, 1878; S. F. Cal. 
Courier, 1850-1, passim; S. F. Alta Cal., 1849-75, passim; hUtelftt Cal., 
124-5; Id., Mining, 17; Id., S. F., 125-56, etc.; Id., Hand Book, 12-18; El 
Sonoreme, Feb. 21, March 21, 30, Apr. 18, 26, May 11, 1849; Vallcjo, Col 
Doc. Hint. Cal, xii. 344; xxxv. 47, 148, 192; xxxvi. 287; Nile* Reg., Ixxiv. 
257, 336-7; Ixxv. 69-70, 113, 127, 288, 320, 348, 383. 




MANY cities owe their origin to accident; some to 
design. In the latter category may be placed most of 
those that sprang up upon this western earth s end, 
and notably San Francisco. When the Englishman 
Richardson moved over from Sauzalito to Yerba 
Buena Cove in the summer of 1835, and cleared a 
place in the chaparral for his trading-tent; when the 
American Jacob P. Leese came up from Los An 
geles, and in connection with his friends of Monterey, 
William Hinckley and Nathan Spear, erected a sub 
stantial frame building and established a commercial 
house there in the summer of 1836 it would appear 
that these representatives of the two foremost nations 
of the world, after mature deliberation, had set out to 
lay the foundation of a west-coast metropolis. The 
opening of the Hudson s Bay Company branch estab 
lishment in 1841 added importance to the hamlet. 
Although founded on the soil and under the colors of 
Andhuac, it never was a Mexican settlement, for the 
United States element ever predominated, until the 

( 164 ) 


spirit of 7G took formal possession under symbol of the 
American flag, wafted hither over subdued domains. 
The inducements for selecting the site lay in its 
proximity to the outlet of the leading harbor 1 upon 
the coast, a harbor to which so many huge rivers and 
rich valleys were tributary, and to which so many 
land routes must necessarily converge. A position so 
commanding led to the establishment here of a pre 
sidio immediately after the occupation of the country, 
under whose wings sprang up a flourishing mission 
establishment. The harbor commended itself early to 
passing vessels, and although finding Sauzalito on the 
northern shore the best station for water and wood, 
they were obliged to come under cognizance of the 
military authorities at the fort, and to seek the more 
substantial supplies at the mission, both establish 
ments presenting, moreover, to trading vessels, in 
their not inconsiderable population, and as the abutting 
points for the settlements southward, an all-important 
attraction. These primary advantages outweighed 
greatly such drawbacks as poor landing-places, lack 
of water sources and farming land in the vicinity, and 
the growing inconvenience of communication with the 
main settlements now rising in the interior. The op 
portune strategy of Alcalde Bartlett in setting aside 
the name of Yerba Buena, which threatened to over 
shadow its prospects, and restoring that of Saint Fran 
cis, proved of value in checking the aspirations of 
Erancisca, later called Benicia. And our seraphic 
father of Assisi remembered the honor, by directing to 
its shore the vast fleet of vessels which in 1849 began 
to empty here their myriads of passengers and cargoes 
of merchandise. This turned the scale, and with such 
start, and the possession of capital and fame, the town 
distanced every rival, Benicia with all her superior 
natural advantages falling far behind. 

1 Opinions upon its merits have been expressed by many prominent ex 
plorers. Gen. Smith strongly disparaged the site from a military and com 
mercial point of view, while becoming enthusiastic over the advantages of 


Nevertheless, doubters became numerous with every 
periodic depression in business; 2 and when the gold 
excitement carried off most of the population, 3 the 
stanchest quailed, and the rival city at the straits, so 
much nearer to the mines, seemed to exult in pro 
spective triumph. But the golden storm proved 
menacing only in aspect. During the autumn the 
inhabitants came flocking back again, in numbers 
daily increased by new arrivals, and rich in funds 
wherewith to give vitality to the town. Building 
operations were actively resumed, notwithstanding 
the cost of labor, 4 and real estate, which lately could 
not have found buyers at any price, now rose with a 
bound to many times its former value. 5 The opening 
of the first wharf for sea-going vessels, the Broadway, 6 
may be regarded as the beginning of a revival, marked 
also by the resurrection of the defunct press, 7 and the 
establishment of a school, and of regular protestant 
worship, 8 propitiatory measures well needed in face of 

2 As early in 1848, when several firms discontinued their advertisements 
in the Californian. Others thought it expedient, as we have seen, to seek a 
prop for the prevailing land and other speculations, by bringing the resources 
of the country and the importance of the town before the people of the east 
ern states. This was done by the pen of Fourgeaud in the Cal. Star, Mar. 
18, 1848, and following numbers. 

3 The absorbing municipal election of Oct. 3d showed only 158 votes. 
Annals S. F., 206. See chapter i. in this vol. on condition in Jan., and chap 
ter iv. on exodus. 

4 Tenfold higher than in the spring. Effects stood in proportion. Eggs 
$12 a dozen; Hawaiian onions and potatoes $1.50 a Ib.j shovels $10 each, etc. 
The arrival of supplies lowered prices till flour sold at from $12 to $15 a bar 
rel in Dec. Star and Cat., Dec. 1848; Bu/ums Six Montlis, 23. 

5 For spring prices, see preceding volume, v. 652-4. A strong influence 
was felt by the arrival in Sept. of the brig Belfast from New York, whose 
cargo served to lower the price of merchandise, but whose inauguration of 
the Broadway wharf as a direct discharging point inspired hope among the 
townsfolk. Real estate rose 50 per cent near the harbor; a lot vainly offered 
for $5,000 one day, sold readily the next for $10,000. S. F. Directory, 1852, 
9. By Nov. the prices had advanced tenfold upon those ruling in the spring, 
and rents rose from $10 and $20 to $20 and $100 per month. To returning 
lot-holders this proved another mine, but others complained of the rise as a 
drawback to settlement. Gillespie, in Larkins Doc., MS., vi. 52, 66; EarlCs 
Stat., MS., 10. 

6 For earlier progress of wharves, see preceding vol., v. 655, 679> 

7 The Californian had maintained a spasmodic existence for a time till 
bought by the Cal. Star, which on Nov. 18th reappeared under the combined 
title, Star and Californian, after five months suspension. In Jan. 1849 it ap 
pears as the A Ua California^ weekly. 

8 Rev. T. D. Hunt, invited from Honolulu, was chosen chaplain to the 


the increased relapse into political obliquity and dis 
sipation, to be expected from a population exuberant 
with sudden affluence after long privation. 9 

Yet this period was but a dull hibernation of expect 
ant recuperation for renewed toil, 10 as compared with 
the following seasons. The awakening came at the 
close of February with the arrival of the first steam 
ship, the California, bearing the new military chief, 
General Persifer F. Smith, and the first instalment of 
gold-seekers from the United States. Then vessel 
followed vessel, at first singly, but erelong the hori 
zon beyond the Golden Gate was white with approach 
ing sails ; and soon the anchorage before Yerba Buena 
Cove, hitherto a glassy expanse ruffled only by the 
tide and breeze, and by some rare visitor, was thickly 
studded with dark hulks, presenting a forest of masts, 
and bearing the symbol and stamp of different countries, 
the American predominating. By the middle of No 
vember upward of six hundred vessels had entered 
the harbor, and in the following year came still more. 11 
The larger proportion were left to swing at anchor in 
the bay, almost without guard at one time more 
than 500 could be counted for the crews, possessed 
no less than the passengers by the gold fever, rushed 
away at once, carrying off the ship boats, and caring 
little for the pay due them, and still less for the dilemma 
of the consignees or captain. The helpless commander 
frequently joined in the flight. 12 So high was the cost 
of labor, and so glutted the market at times with cer 
tain goods, that in some instances it did not pay to 

citizens, with $2,500 a year. Services at schpol-house on Portsmouth square. 
Annals 8. F., 207. 

9 There were now general as well as local elections, particulars of which 
are given elsewhere. 

ltf As spring approached, attention centred on preparations, with impatient 
waiting for opportunities to start for the mines. Hence the statement may 
not be wrong that most of the people of the city at that time had a cadav 
erous appearance, .... a drowsy listlessness seemed to characterize the masses 
of the community. First Steamship Pioneers, 366. 

11 As will be shown in the chapter on commerce. 

12 Taylor instances a case where the sailors coolly rowed off under the fire 
of the government vessels. El Dorado, i. 54. Merchants, had. to .take care.of 
many abandoned vessels. Fay s Facta, MS., 1-2. 


unload the cargo. Many vessels were left to rot, or 
to be beached for conversion into stores and lodging- 
houses. 13 The disappointments and hardships of the 
mines brought many penitents back in the autumn, so 
as to permit the engagement of crews. 

Of 40,000 and more persons arriving in the bay, 
the greater proportion had to stop at San Francisco to 
arrange for proceeding inland, while a certain number 
of traders, artisans, and others concluded to remain in 
the city, whose population thus rose from 2,000 in Feb 
ruary to 6,000 in August, after which the figure began 
to swell under the return current of wintering or sati 
ated miners, until it reached about 20,000. 14 

To the inflowing gold-seekers the aspect of the 
famed El Dorado city could not have been very in 
spiring, with its straggling medley of low dingy adobes 
of a by-gone day, and frail wooden shanties born in an 

13 By cutting holes for doors and windows and adding a roof. Merrill, 
Stat., MS., 2-4, instances the well-known Niantlc and Gen. Harrison. Lar- 
kin, in Doc. Hist. CaL, vii. 288, locates the former at N. w. corner Sansome 
and Clay, and the latter (owned by E. Mickle & Co.) at N. w. corner Bat 
tery and Clay. He further places the Apollo storeship, at N. w. corner Sacra 
mento and Battery, and the Georgean between Jackson and Washington, west 
of Battery st. Many sunk at their moorings. As late as Jan. 1857 old 
hulks still obstructed the harbor, while still others had been overtaken by the 
bayward march of the city front, and formed basements or cellars to tene 
ments built on their decks. Even now, remains of vessels are found under 
the filled foundations of houses. Energetic proceedings of the harbor-master 
finally cleared the channel. This work began already in 1850. Chas Hare 
made a regular business of taking the vessels to pieces; and soon the observ 
ant Chinese saw the profits to be made, and applied their patient energy 
to the work. Among the sepulchred vessels I may mention the Cadmus, 
which carried Lafayette to America in 1824; the Plover, which sailed the Arctic 
in search of Franklin; the Regulus, Alceste, Thames, Neptune, Golconda, Mersey, 
Caroline Augusta, Dianthe, Genetta deGoito, Candace, Copiapo, Talca, Bay State, 
and others. 

14 It is placed at 3,000 in March, 5,000 in July, and from 12,000 to 15,000 in 
Oct., the latter by Taylor, Eldorado, 205, and a writer in Home Miss., xxiii. 
208. Some even assume 30,000 at the end of 1849. In the spring the cur 
rent set in for the mines, leaving a small population for the summer. The 
first directory, of Sept. 1850, contained 2,500 names, and the votes cast in 
Oct. reached 3,440. Sac. Transcript, Oct. 14, 1850. Hittell, S. F., 147-8, as 
sumes not over 8,000 in Nov. 1849, on the strength of the vote then cast of 
2,056, while allowing about 25,000 in another place for Dec. The Annals S. F. y 

.219, .226, 244, insists upon at least 20,000, probably nearer 25,000. There are 
other estimates in Mayne s B. Col. 157. The figures differ in Crosby s Events, 
MS., 12; Williams Stat., MS., 3; Greens Life, MS., 19; Burnett s Recol . MS., 
ii. 36; Bartktt s Stat., MS., 3. 



The (-raded sha^mg indicates the rel- 
A. ative density of occupation in the b<uines 

na leading reidence ^ctlon 



afternoon, with a sprinkling of more respectable frame 
houses, and a mass of canvas and rubber habitations. 
The latter crept outward from the centre to form a 
flapping camp-like suburb around the myriad of sand 
hills withered by rainless summer, their dreariness 
scantily relieved by patches of chaparral and sage 
brush, diminutive oak and stunted laurel, upon which 
the hovering mist-banks cast their shadow. 15 

It was mainly a city of tents, rising in crescent in 
cline upon the shores of the cove. Stretching from 
Clark Point on the north-east, it skirted in a narrow 
band the dominant Telegraph hill, and expanded along 
the Clay-street slopes into a more compact settlement 
of about a third of a mile, w r hich tapered away along 
the California-street ridge. Topographic peculiarities 
compelled the daily increasing canvas structures to 
spread laterally, and a streak extended northward 
along Stockton street; but the larger number passed 
to the south-west shores of the cove, beyond the Mar 
ket-street ridge, a region which, sheltered from the 
blustering west winds and provided with good spring 
water, was named Happy Valley. 16 Beyond an at- 

15 Hardly any visitor fails to dilate upon the dreary bareness of the hills, 
a corpse-like waste, as Pfeiffer, Lady s Second Jour., 288, has it. Helper s 
Land of Gold, 83. 

16 All this shore beyond California street, for several blocks inland, was 
called Happy Valley; yet the term applied properly to the valley about First, 
Second, Mission, and Natoma sts. The section along Howard st was known 
as Pleasant Valley. Deans Stat., MS., 1; Currey s Incidents, MS., 4; Wilicy, 
and pioneer letters in S. F. Bulletin, May 17, 1859; Jan. 23, Sept. 10, 18G7. 
The unclaimed soil was also an attraction. The hill which at the present 
Palace Hotel rose nearly threescore feet in height in a measure turned the 
wind. Yet proportionately more people died in this valley, says Garniss, 
Early Days, MS., 10, than in the higher parts of S. F. Currey estimates 
the number of tents here during the winter 1849-50 at 1,000, and adds that 
the dwellings along Stockton st, north from Clay, were of a superior order. 
Ulri, sup. , 8. Details on the extent of the city are given also in Williams 
Recol, MS., 6; Merrill, Stat., MS., 2, wherein is observed that it took half an 
hour to reach Fourth st from the plaza, owing to the trail winding round 
sand hills. Button s Early Exper., MS., 1; Barstow s Stat., MS., 2; Roach s 
Stat., MS,, 2; Doolittle s Stat., MS., 2; Upham s Notes, 221; Tun-ill s Cal. 
Notes, 22-7; Winans Stat., MS., 514; Fay s Facts, MS., 3; Findlas Stat., MS., 3, 
9; Robinson s Cal. and Its Gold Reg., 10; Walton s Facts, 8; Richardson s Missis., 
448, with view of S. F. in 1847; Lloyd s Lights and Shades, 18-20; Saxons 
Five. Years, 309-12; Hemhaw s Events, MS., 2; Ricliardson s Mining, MS., 10-11; 
Frisbie s Remin., MS., 36-7; Sixteen Months, 46, 167; Cal. Gold Regions, 1C5, 
214; Hutcfungs Mag., i. 83; Dilke s Greater Britain, 209, 228-32; Clemens 


tenuatecl string continued toward the government 
reservation at Rincon Point, the south-east limit of 
the cove. 17 

Thus the city was truly a fit entrepot for the gold 
region. Yet, with the distinctive features of different 
nationalities, it had in the aggregate a stamp of its 
own, and this California type is still recognizable 
despite the equalizing effect of intercourse, especially 
with the eastern states. 

The first striking landmark to the immigrant was 
Telegraph hill, with its windmill-like signal house and 
pole, whose arms, by their varying position, indicated 
the class of vessel approaching the Golden Gate. 18 
And many a flutter of hope and expectation did they 
evoke when announcing the mail steamer, laden with 
letters and messengers, or some long-expected clipper- 
ship with merchandise, or perchance bringing a near 
and dear relative 1 Along its southern slopes dwell 
ings began rapidly to climb, with squatters eyries 
perched upon the rugged spurs, and tents nestling in 
the ravines. Clark Point, at its foot, was for a time 
a promising spot, favored by the natural landing ad 
vantages, and the Broadway pier, the first ship wharf; 
and its section of Sansorne street was marked by a 
number of corrugated iron stores; but with the rapid 
extension of the wharf system, Montgomery street 
reaffirmed its position as the base line for business. 
Most of the heavy import firms were situated along 
its eastern side, including a number of auction-houses, 
conspicuous for their open and thronged doors, and the 

Roughing It, 410, 417, 444; tfouv. Annaks Voy>, 1849, 224; Voorhies Oration, 
4-5; Pac. Neto*, Nov. 27, 1849; Dec. 27, 1850; New and Old, 69 et seq.; Mc- 
Collums Call 33-6. Earlier details at the close of preceding volume. 

17 A mile across from Clark Point. These two points presented the only 
boat approach at low water. A private claim to Rincon Point reservation 
was subsequently raised ou the ground that the spot had been preempted by 
one White; but government rights were primary in cases involving military 
defences. 8. F. Times, Apr. 7th. 

18 This improved signal-station, in a two-atory house 25 ft by 18, was 
erected in Sept. 1849. Reminiscences in S. F. Call, Dec. 8, 1870; Taylor s El 
dorado, i. 117. After the telegraph connected the outer ocean station with 
the city, tlie hill became mainly a resort for Visitors. The signal-house was 
blown down in Dec. 1870. 


hum of sellers and bidders. On the mud-flats Ji their 
rear, exposed by the receding tide, lay barges unload 
ing merchandise. Toward the end of 1849, piling and 
filling pushed warehouses ever farther out into the 
cove, but Montgomery street retained most of the 
business offices, some occupying the crossing thor 
oughfares. Clay street above Montgomery became 
a dry-goods centre. Commercial street was opened, 
and its water extension, Long Wharf, unfolded into a 
pedler s avenue and Jews quarter, where Cheap Johns 
with sonorous voices and broad wit attracted crowds 
of idlers. The levee eastward was transformed into 
Leidesdorff street, and contained the Pacific Mail 
Steamship office. California street, which marked 
the practical limit of settlement *in 1848, began to 
attract some large importing firms; and thither was 
transferred in the middle of 1850 the custom-house, 
round which clustered the express offices and two 
places of amusement. Nevertheless, the city by that 
time did not extend beyond Bush street, save in the 
line along the shore to Happy Valley, where manu 
facturing enterprises found a congenial soil, fringed 
on the west by family residences. 

Kearny street was from the first assigned to retail 
shops, extending from Pine to Broadway streets, and 
centring round Portsmouth square, a bare spot, relieved 
alone by the solitary liberty-pole, and the animals in 
and around it. 19 The bordering sides of the plaza 
were, however, mainly occupied by gambling-houses, 
flooded with brilliant light and music, and with flaring 
streamers which attracted idlers and men seeking re 
laxation. Additional details, with a list of business 
firms and notable houses and features, I append in a 
note. 20 At the corner of Pacific street stood a four- 

19 It long remained a cow-pen, enclosed by rough boards. Helper s Land 
Of Gold, 74. 

29 A record of the business and professional community of S. F. in 1849- 
50 cannot be made exhaustive or rigidly accurate for several obvious reasons. 
There was a constant influx and reflux of people from and to the interior, 
especially in the spring and autumn. The irregularity in building and 
numbering left much confusion; and the several sweeping conflagrations 


story building adorned with balconies, wherein the 
City Hall had found a halting-place after much mi- 

which caused the ruin, disappearance, and removal of many firms and stores, 
added to the confusion. Instability characterized this early period here as 
well as in the ever-shifting mining camps. I would have preferred to limit 
the present record of the city to 1849 as the all-important period, but the 
autumn and spring movements force me over into the middle of 1850. The 
vagueness of some of my authorities leads me occasionally to overstep even 
this line. These authorities are, foremost, the numerous manuscript dicta 
tions and documents obtained from pioneers, so frequently quoted in this and 
other chapters; the ayuntamiento minutes; advertisements and notices in the 
AUa California, Pacific News, Journal of Commerce, California Courier, S. F. 
Herald, Evening Picayune, and later newspapers; and Kimbairs Directory 
ofS. F. for 1850, the first work of the kind here issued. It is a 16mo of 1C9 
pages, with some 2,500 names, remarkable for its omissions, errors, and lack 
of even alphabetical order, yet of great value. The Men and Memories cf 
San Francisco in the Spring of 1850, by T. A. Barry and B. A. Patten, S. F., 
1873, 12mo, 296 pp., which has taken its chief cue from the above directory, 
wanders often widely from the period indicated on the title-page, yet offers 
many interesting data. I also refer to my record for the city in 1848, in the 
preceding vol., v. 67G etseq. The favorite landing-place for passengers of 
1849 was the rocks at Clark Point, so called after Wm S. Clark, who still 
owns the warehouse here erected by him in 1847-8, at the N.E. corner of 
Battery and Broadway. At the foot of Broadway extended also the first 
wharf for vessels, a short structure, which by Oct. 1850 had been stretched 
a distance of 250 feet, by 40 in width. The name Commercial applied to it 
for a while soon yielded to Broadway. Here were the offices of the harbor 
master, river and bar pilots, and Sacramento steamer, and for a time the 
brig Treaty lay at the pier as a storage ship, controlled by Whitman & Sal 
mon, merchants. On the same wharf were the offices of Flint (Jas P. and 
Ed.), Peabody, & Co., Osgood & Eagleston, commission merchants; Geo. H. 
Peck, produce merchant; F. Vassault & Co. (W. F. Roelofson), Col March, 
Col Ben. Poor, Jos. P. Blair, agent of the Aspinwall steamship line, J. 
Badkins, grocer, and the noted Steinberger s butcher-shop. 

Near by, to the north, were three pile projections. First, Cunningham 
wharf, between Vallejo and Green sts, in Oct. 1850, 375 ft long, 33 ft wide, wich 
a right-angle extension of 3CO ft by 30, at a depth of 25 ft cost $75,000. Here 
lay for a time the storage ship Resdutci, in care of the pilot agent Ncbon. For 
building grant of wharf to Jos. Cunningham, see S. F. Minutes, 1849, 197-8. 
At the foot of Green st and toward Union st were the extensions of B. R. 
Buckelew & Co., general merchants, and the Law or Green-st-wharf build 
ing in the autumn of 1850. Southward stretched the wharf extension of 
Pacific st, a solid structure 60 ft wide, of which in Oct. 1850 525 ft were 
completed, out of the proposed 800 ft, to cost $60, COO. On its north side, 
beyond Battery st, lay the storage ship Arkansas. Near it was the butcher- 
shop of Tim Burnham, and the office of Hy. Wetherbee, merchant. Near 
the foot of Broadway st, appropriately so named from its extra width, were 
the offices of Wm E. S tough tenburgh, auctioneer and com. mer. ; Hutton & 
Miller (M. E.); Ellis (J. S., later sheriff S. F.) & Goin (T.); and L. T. Wil 
son, shipping; Hutton (J. F.) & Timmerman, com. mer.; D. Babcock, drug 
gist; D. Chandler, market. On Battery st, named after the Fort Montgom 
ery battery of 1846 which stood at the water edge north of Vallejo st, rose 
the Fremont hotel of John Sutch, near Vallejo, and the Bay hotel of Pet. 
Guevil. On either side of the street, between Vallejo and Broadway, were 
the offices of Ed. H. Castle, mer.; Gardiner, Howard, & Co., Hazen & Co., 
Jos. L. Howell, J. H. Morgan & Co. (A. E. Kitfield, John Lentell), L. R. 
Mills, J. H. Morton & Co., corner of Vallejo, the last three grocers; Nat. Mil 
ler is marked both as grocer and lumber dealer; Wm Suffern, saddler; south 
of Broadway were Brooks & Friel, tin-plate workers. 

On Broadway, between Battery and Sansome sts, were the offices of C. A. 


grating, in conjunction with the jail ana court-rooms. 
The opposite block, stretching toward Montgomery 

Bertram!, shipping; at the Battery corner, Wm Clark, mer.; John Elliott, 
com. mer.; Geo. F arris & Co. (S, C. Northrop and Edwin Thompson), gen. 
store. Half a dozen additional Point hostelries were here represented by the 
Illinois house of S. Anderson, at the Battery corner, Broadway house of Wm 
M. Bruner, the rival Broadway hotel of L. Dederer, Lovejoy s hotel of J. H. 
Brown, Lafayette hotel of L. Guiraud, and Albion house of Croxton & Ward, 
the latter four between Sansome and Montgomery sts, in which section were 
abo the offices of White, Graves, & Buckley, and Aug. A. Watson & Co ; II. 
Marks & Bro., gen. store; Wm H. Towne, and Dederer & Valentine, gro 
cers. West of Battery ran Sansome st, from Telegraph hill cliffs at Broadway 
to the cove at Jackson st, well lined with business places, and conspicuous 
for the number of corrugated iron buildings. At the west corner of Broad 
way rose the 3} -story wooden edifice of J. W. Bingham, 0. Reynolds, and F. A. 
& W. A. Bartlott, com. mer. In the same block was the office of De Witt (Alf. 
& Harrison, (H. A.), one of the oldest firms, later Kittle & Co.; abo Case, 
Heiser, & Co., and Mahoney, Ripley, & McCullough, on the N. w. Pacific-st 
corner, who dealt partly in ammunition. At the Paciiic-st corner were abo 
Wm H. Mosher & Co. (W. A. Bryant, W. F. Story, W. Adain), and E. S. 
Stone & Co., com. mers, and Hawley s store. In the same section were the 
offices of Muir (A.) & Greene (E.), brokers; Jos. W. Hartman and Jas Hogan, 
mers, are assigned to Telegraph hill. The well-known C. J. Collins had a 
hat-shop on this street, and Jose Suffren kept a grocery at the Broadway 

The section of Sansome st, between Pacific and Jackson sts, was even more 
closely occupied. At Gold st, a lane running westward along the cove, L. B. 
Hanks had established himself as a lumber dealer. Buildings had risen on 
piles beyond the lane, however, on the corners of Jackson st, occupied by 
Corjhill (H. J.) & Arrington (W.), com. mer. ; Bullet & Patrick (on the opposit*e 
side), Buzby & Bros, F. M. Warren & Co. (C. E. Chapin, S. W. Shelter), ship 
and com. mer. ; Hotalling & Barnstead, Huerlin & Belcher, gen. dealers, and 
Ed. H. Parker. Northward in the section were Ellis (M.), Crosby (C. W.), & 
Co. (W. A. Beecher), Cross (Al.), Hobson (Jos.), & Co. (W. Hooper), Under 
wood (Thos), McKnight (W. S.), & Co. (C. W. Creely), Dana Bros (W. A. & 
H. T.), W. H. Davenport, Grayson & Guild, and J. B. Lippincott & Co., all 
com. mers; E. S. Lovel, mer.; Chard, Johnson (D. M.), &Co., gen. importers, 
at Gold st; Simmons, Lilly, & Co., clothing. J. W. & S. H. Dwinelle, coun 
sellors, were in Cross & Hobson s building. On Pacific st, adjoining, was the 
office of Wm Burlin, mer., the grocery stores of T. W. Legget and Man. 
SufHoni, the confectionery store of J. H. & T. M. Gale, and three hotels, 
Union, Marine, and du Commerce, kept by Geo. Brown, C. C. Stiles, and C. 
Renault, the last two between Sansome st and Ohio st, the latter a lane run 
ning parallel to the former, from Pacific to Broadway. 

The business part of Montgomery st, named after the U. S. naval officer 
commanding at S. F. in 1846, extended southward from the cliffs at Broad 
way, and beyond it, on the slopes of Telegraph hill. There were several 
dwelling-houses, among them Capt. P. B. Hewlitt s, who received boarders; 
yet the hill was mostly abandoned to disreputable Sydney men, and westward 
to the now assimilating Spanish Americans. In the section between Broad 
way and Pacific sts, I find only the merchant F. Berton; Chipman, Brown, & 
Co. were grocers; Jas Harrison kept a gen. store at the corner, and Dr S. R. 
Gerry, the health officer of Dec. 1849, had an office here. In the next sec 
tion, between Pacific and Jackson, Montgomery st assumed the general busi 
ness stamp for which it was preeminent. Merchants, commission houses, and 
auctioneers were the chief occupants, the last being most conspicuous. At 
the Pacific corner were the merchants Harrison (Capt. C. H.), Bailey, & 
Hooper, and A. Olphan; and at the Jackson end, J. C. & W. H. V. Cronise, 


street and at the foot of Telegraph hill, was filled with 
shabby dens and public houses of the lowest order, 

mers and aucs (with them as clerk, Titus Cronise, the later author), Hervey 
Sparks, banker and real estate dealer, and Dewey (Squire P. ) & Smith (F. 
M.), re:il estate. Intermediate were J Behrens, Geo. Brown, Davis & Co. (J. 
W. & N. R. Davis), J H Levein, McKenzie, Thompson, & Co., H. H. Nel 
son, Thos Whaley, G. S. Wardle & Co., all com. mers; Simon Raphael, mer.; 
J. A. Norton, ship and com, mer., an English Jew whose subsequent business 
reverses affected his mind and converted him into one of the most noted char 
acters of S. F, under the title of Emperor Norton of Mexico. Until his 
death, in 1880, he could be seen daily in the business centres, dressed in a 
shabby military uniform, and attending to financial and political measures for 
his empire. Here were also the clothing stores of Raphael (J. G.), Falk, & 
Co., J. Simons, Louis Simons, and Dan. Toy. 

The Jackson-st corner bordered on the neck of the lagoon, which pene 
trated in a pear form on either side of this street more than half-way up to 
Kearny st. It was one of the first spots to Which the fillage system was 
applied, and the bridge by which Montgomery st crossed its neck since 1844 
had by 1849 been displaced by a solid levee. Jackson st began its march into 
the cove, and in Oct. 2, 1850, the private company controlling the work were 
fast advancing the piling beyond Battery to Front st, being 552 feet out, 
where the depth was 13 ft. The estimated cost was $40,000. Its section 
between Montgomery and Sansome was heavily occupied by firms: N. Larco 
& Co. (Labrosa, Roding, Bendixson), Louis Cohen, Quevedo, Lafour, & Co., 
Reihlincr, Etlleysen, & Co., O. P. Sutton, mers; Bech, Elam, & Co. (W. G. 
Eason, J. Galloway), J. C. Catton, Huttmann (F.), Eiller, & Co., Wm Ladd, 
J. F. Stuart & Co. (J. Raynes), com. mers; Christal, Corman, & Co., Lord & 
Washburn, wholesale and gen. mers; Beideman(J. C.)& Co. (S. Fleischhaker), 
Ollendorff, Wolf, & Co. (C. Friedenberg), B. Pinner & Bro., Potsdamer & 
Rosenbaum (J. & A.), Sam. Thompson, R. Wyman & Co. (T. S. Wyman), 
clothing; Adam Grant, S. L. Jacobs, Titman Bros, C. Jansen & Co., dry 
goods the last named victims of the outrage which led to the vigilance up- 
r::ing of 1851 Hall & Martin, aucs; Roth & Potter, stoves and tinwork; 
"White & McNulty, grocers; Paul Adams, fruit; Dickson & Hay, land-office; 
C. C. Richmond & Co., druggists, in a store brought out by the Eudorus, Sept. 
1049. Here were also two hotels, the Commercial and the Dalton house, 
kept by J. Ford & Co. and Smith & Hasty, and the fonda Mejicana of E. 
Pascual dispensed the fiery dishes dear to Mexican palates. Sansome st ex 
tended from here on piles southward, and in the section between Jackson and 
Washington sts, on the east side, was the office of W. T. Coleinan & Co., com. 
mers, whose chief was prominently connected with the vigilance committee 
of 1851, and the famed president of the 1856 body. Near by were Jas H. 
Ray, Turner, Fish, & Co., Goodall (T. H.), Muzzy, & Co., Paul White & Co. 
(J. Watson), also com. mers; John Cowell, mer. at the Jackson corner; Bel- 
knap, White, & Co., provisions. Rogers, Richeson, Co. (M. Jordan) had a 
coal-yard, and at Jones alley lay a lumber-yard belonging to Palmer, Cook, 

Continuing along Jackson st, from Sansome to Battery st, we find the 
offices of Myrick, Crosett, & Co., gen. jobbers; Howe & Hunter, Jacoby, 
Herman, & Co., Savoni, Archer, & Co., N. H. Sanborn, Murry & Sanger, Vose, 
Wood, & Co., com. mers. Wm Crosett, com. mer.; C. E. Hunter & Co., F. 
Coleman Sanford, gen. mers; F. M. Warren & Co., White (W. H.) & Williams 
(J. T.), ship, and com. mers; the latter nearer Sansome st. Along the 
water-front W. Meyer kept a coffee-house. The latter part of this section 
was a wharf, and the narrow approach to the office of Dupuy, Foulkes, & Co., 
coin, mer., at the Battery corner, revealed the splashing water on either 
si-le. Beyond them were the offices of E. L. Plumb, mer. ; Gassett & Sanborn 
(T. S.), E. S. Woodford & Co. (J. B. Bridgeman), ship, and com. mersj O. 


frequented by sinister-looking men and brazen-faced 
females, who day or night were always ready either 

Charlick, agent for Law s line of steamers; Gregory s (J. W.) express; 
Schultz & Palmer, grocers. South of Jackson and west of Battery st lay 
the storage vessel Georgean, though some identify her with the prison brig 
Euphemia. On Montgomery st, between Jackson and Washington sts, were 
at least four of the characteristic auction -houses, Moore (G. H.), Folger (F. B.), 
& Hill (H.), Jas B. Huie, Scooffy & Kelsey, and W. H. Jones. At the 
Jackson-st corner were Haight (E.) & Ames (0. T. ), com. mers, and Pratt 
(J.) & Cole (Cornel) (later U. S. senator), attorneys; while at the Washing- 
ton-st end rose the Merchants Exchange Reading Room of L. W. Sloat 
son of the commodore S. Gower is also named as proprietor and at the N. 
w. corner the offices of C. L. Ross. com. mer., who during the early part of 
1849 acted as postmaster (in 1848 he had a lumber-yard). H. B. Sherman, and 
P. A. Morse, counsellor. Among the occupants of the Exchange building 
were Dickson (IX), De Wolf & Co., and J. S. Hager, counsellor, later U. S. 
senator; and in the Exchange court were E. D. Heatley & Co., com. mers; 
with S. Price, consul for Chile, as partner. In this section are mentioned 
among the merchants, Rob. Hamilton, Worster & Gushing (G. A.), W. Hart, 
Stowell, Williams (H.), & Co., H. Schroeder, Van der Meden, & Co., Bennett 
& Hallock (J. Y.), L. L. Blood & Co. (J. H. Adams, G. B. Hunt), Worthing- 
ton, Beale, & Bunting, Jos. Bidleman, Ed. Gilson, Guyol, Galbraith, & Co., 
Mazera N. Medina, com. mers. WykofF & Co. (G.), were wholesale dealers; 
Jas Dows & Co., wholesale liquor men (T. G. Phelps, their clerk, was later 
congressman and collector of S. F. ) ; S. & B. Harries, S. Fleischhacker, Pugh, 
Jacob, & Co., clothing; Mclntosh (R.) & Co., provisions; John Rainey, gen. 
dealer; Sabatie (A.) & Roussel, grocers; Conroy & O Conner, hardware; Brad 
ley, photographer; H. F. Williams, carpenter and builder, on E. side. C. Web 
ster kept the Star house. At the foot of Washington st, which touched the 
cove a few feet below Montgomery st, were Franklin, Selim, & Co., gen. mers; 
Hosmer & Bros, A. P. Kinnan, and Maynard & Co., grocers; Leonard & Tay, 
produce mers, Chapin & Sawyer, com. mers, Camilo Martin, and J. F. Lohse, 
mers. The private wharf prolongation of this street extended 275 feet by 
Oct. 1850. 

Between Washington and Clay, Montgomery st was marked by additions 
in the banking line, notably Burgoyne & Co. (J. V. Plume), at the s.w. cor 
ner of Washington st, Ludlow (S.), Beebe, & Co., and H. M. Naglee & Co., 
corner of Merchant st, and by a literary atmosphere imparted by the San 
Francisco Herald, of Nugent & Co., the Journal of Commerce, of W. Bartlett 
(mayor S. F. and gov. Cal.), associated with Robb, and The Watchman, a re 
ligious monthly by A. Williams, at the same office. Marvin & Hitchcock s 
book-store was in the Herald building, the Delmonico s hotel, by Delmonico 
& Treadwell, at the Irving house, on the E. side, while the drug-store of 
Harris & Parton was at the Wash.-st corner. At these corners were the 
offices of Finley, Johnson (C. H.), & Co., (J. W. Austin), Grogan & Lent 
(W. M. ), both com. mers, and Horace Hawes, counsellor (and first sheriff of 
the county); at the corner of Merchant st, Barron & Co., com. mer., held out, 
and on its s.w. corner a three-story brick building was begun in Oct. 1849, 
on the site of Capt. Hinckley s adobe house. The Clay-st corners were occu 
pied by Cordes, Steffens, & Co., Josiah Belden, com. mers; Bacon & Mahony, 
and R. J. Stevens & Co. (G. T. H. Cole), both ship and com. mers. In the 
same section were Earl, Mackintosh, & Co., Hayden & Mudge, Cost & Ver- 
planck, the latter two in the Herald building, Vogan, Lyon, & Co., Manrow & 
Co. (W. N. Meeks), all com. mers; Oct. Hoogs, J. C. Treadwell, mers; Ken- 
dig, Wainright, & Co., auc. and com. mer. in a long one-story wooden house; 
J. A. Kyte, ship and com. mer.; Corvin & Markley, clothing and shoes; 
Marriott, real estate; F. G. & J. C. Ward, gen. dealers. In the same or ad 
joining section, if we may trust the confused numbering of those days, may 


for low revelry or black crime. The signs above the 
drinking-houses bore names which, like Tarn O Shan- 

be placed Beech & Forrey, Vandervoort & Co., Rob. Fash, L. Haskell, H. 
Hughes, jr, E. T. Martin, Porter & Co., Sage & Smith (Stewart), all com. 
mers; Annan, Lord, & Co., gen. jobbing; Reed & Carter, ship mers; Jos. 
Chapman and Joel Holkins & Co., mers; Fitch (H. S.) & Co. (I. McK. 
Lemon), auc. and com. mers; Frisbie & Co., mer. broker; A. B. Southworth, 
metal dealer; Ed. S. Spear, broker; D. S. Morrill, Boston notions; Johnson 
& McCarty, provisions; Crittenden (A. P.) & Randolph, and S. Heydenfelt, 
attorneys; and the Pacific bath-house. 

Turning down Clay st toward the water, we find in 1849 the beginning of 
a wharf, just below Montgomery st, which by Oct. 1850 extended 900 ft by 
4 J ft in width, and would before the end of that year be carried 900 ft farther, 
at a total cost of $39,000. In its rear, at the N. w. Sansome-st corner had 
been left stranded the old whaler Niantic, converted into a warehouse with 
offices, by Godeffroy, Sillem, & Co. At the corresponding Battery corner lay 
the storage ship Gen. Harrison. Along this wharf street were established Ira 
A. Eaton, B. H. Randolph, Hochkofler & Tenequel, J. G. Pierce, F. Vassault, 
mers; J. J. Chauviteau & Co., gen. bankers and com. mers; J. B. Corrigan, 
Green (H.) & Morgan (N. D.), Ogden & Haynes, Z. Holt, E. Mickle & Co. (W. 
H. Tillinghast, later banker), H. C. Beals, J. H. Chichester, Win H. Coit, Geo. 
Sexsmith, Simmons, Hutchinson, & Co. (Simmons died Sept. 1850, see biog. 
preceding vol. v.), com. mers; Woodworth (S. & F.) & Morris, ship and com. 
mers (Selim E. Woodworth, the second vigilance president of 1851, leader of 
the immigrant relief party of 1848, and later U. S. commodore); Moorehead, 
Whitehead, & Waddington, Valparaiso flour mers; here was also the office 
of the Sacramento steamers; T. Breeze (later Breeze & Loughran). Many of 
the stores were of zinc. Buckley & Morse, shipsmiths, Schloss Bros, wholesale 
dealers; Jas Patrick, Jas B. Weir, provisions; Dunbar (F.) & Gibbs, grocers, 
on Sansome st. The southern half of the Wash. -Clay block on the corner 
was owned by R. M. Sherman, for a time, in 1848-9, of the firm Sherman & 
Ruckle, and he still owns the property. 

Returning to Montgomery st toward Sacramento st, we find at the 
S. w. Clay-st corner the first brick house of the city, erected by Mellus & 
Howard in 1848. This appears to be the so-called fire-proof Wells building, 
occupied partly by Wells (T. G.) & Co., bankers. At the Clay-st corners 
were also Fay, Pierce, & Willis, O. C. Osborne, sr and jr, com. mers; M. F. 
Klaucke, gen. mer. ; Delos Lake, counsellor, and Cooke & Lecount, stationers. 
At the corner of Commercial st, James King of William, the assassinated 
editor of 1856, had a banking-house; here were also N. Bargber & Co., mers; 
Jas Murry, ship mer.; and on the S. E. corner stood the noted Tontine gam 
bling-house, managed by W. Shear, and also by Austin & Button (Austin was 
later tax collector of the city). A two-story -and-a-half house on the opposite 
corner, with projecting eaves, once belonging to the Hudson s Bay Co., had 
also a gambling-saloon much frequented by Mexicans. In this circle figured 
the Eureka hotel of J. H. Davis & Co. At the Sacramento st end were J. 
R. Rollinson, ship & com. mer.; H. E. Davison, gen. merchandise, and 
Taaffe (W.), Murphy (D.), & McCahill (G.), dry goods, etc. Intermediate 
were the offices of Moore (R.) & Andrews (Steb.), the long-established 
Howard & Green (T. H., the former being before of the firm Mellus & How 
ard), Capt. Aaron Sargent, Gildemeister & De Fremery (J.), all corn, mers; 
Grayson & Guild also had their office here; A Hausman, Goldstein, & Co. cloth 
ing; J. W. Osborn, chinaware; Rob. Sherwood, watchmaker, la.ter capitalist. 
Crane & Rice, proprietors Cal. Courier. 

Commercial street received a great impulse from the projection in May 1849 
of the Central or Long wharf, by a company which embraced such prominent 
citizens as Howard, W. H. Davis, S. Brannan, Ward, Price, Folsom, Shilla- 
ber, Cross, Hobson & Co., De Witt & Harrison, Finley, Johnson, & Co., etc., 
. CAL., Vo ,. . 12 


ter, Magpie, and Boar s Head, smacked of English 
sea-port resorts, and within them Australian slang 

who subscribed $120,000 at once. By Dec., 800 ft were finished at a cost of 
$110,000. In June 1850 the great fire destroyed a portion, but work was re 
sumed and by Oct. it was 2,000 ft out, so that the mail steamers could ap 
proach; repairs and extension cost $71,000. This drew trade rapidly from 
other quarters and led to wharf extension in. different directions. Capt. Gil- 
lespie was wharfinger. Leidesdorff, so named after the U. S. vice-consul, 
whose warehouse stood at its junction with California st, was originally a 
beach levee. The office of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co., at the s. E. comer 
of Com. and Leidesdorff sts, was at first a two-story house, 20 ft square. 
After the fire of June 1850 it was moved to the Sacramento corner of 
Leidesdorff. Here was also the Kremlin restaurant and saloon of Nash, Pat 
ten, & Thayer, with lodgings above. On the N. E. corner stood Hall & Ryck- 
man s (the latter 3d president of the vigilance committee of 1851) New World 
building. At the head of the wharf was a brick building bearing the conspic 
uous sign of Dan. Gibb, com. mer. ; his neighbors were R. B. Wilkins, Jas H. 
Goodman, Theo. Norris, Huffman & Brien, com. mers; Endicott, Greene, & 
Oakes, mers; Smith & Block, grocers and com. mers; Wm Thompson, jr, 
com. and ship broker, occupied the Commercial building. Ellis & Goin, of 
Clark Point, had an office here for a time. Along the wharf were G. B. 
Bradford, Huffman & Brien, Qttinger & Brown, Gosse & Espie, Hamilton & 
Luyster, Hewes & Cutter, com. mers; Quimby, Harmon, & Co., shoes; Bonva- 
lot, Roux, & Co., variety store; Ferguson, Reynolds, & Co., Smith & Gavin, 
grocers; Hoff & Ambrose, at the Battery corner; the Prices Current office. 

Before the Commercial-st wharf and its rivals attracted traffic, Sacramento 
st stood prominent as a reception place for merchandise. It had now to join 
in the race toward deep water; to which end Henry Howison prolonged the 
southern side of the street till it reached, in Oct. 1850, a length of 1,100 ft, 
with a width of 40 and a depth of 14 ft at high water. Stevenson & Parker 
extended the street proper to Davis st, a distance of 800 feet, by Oct. 1 850, 
and erected near the end a commodious building. At the end of Howison s pier 
were the storage brigs Piedmont and Casilda, belonging to Mohler, Caduc, & Co. 
Caduc, later ice-dealer, assisted in building the pier. The Thomas Bennett, 
brought out by a Baltimore firm, and controlled by Trowbridge, Morrison, & 
Co., lay at the Sansome-st corner for storage. None of these appear to have 
remained, according to the map of 1851, but the Apcllo, at the N. w. Battery- 
st corner, controlled by Beach & Lockhart, did become a fixture. On the s. w. 
corner of Leidesdorff st stood prominent the office of Dall (Jos. & John) 
& Austin, till the fire of June 1850 drove them to the Sansome-st corner. On 
the other side, above Leidesdorff st, rose the three-story wooden building of 
J. L. Riddle & Co., auctioneers, wherein acquaintances could always receive 
shelter. Near them were Levering & Gay, S. F. Wisner, Boarclman, Bacon, 
& Co., Butler & Bartlett, Hawley (F. P. & D. N.), Sterling & Co. (G. W. 
Wheeler), com. mers; Totten & Eddy, gen. jobbers; R. F. Perkins, mer.; 
R. D. Hart & Co., dry goods; Tower, Wood, & Co., gen. store; D. C. Mc- 
Glynn, paints; Kennebec house, kept by T. M. Rollins. Along the wharf 
itself were Locke & Morrison, com. mers, and Beck & Palmer, ship and com. 
mers, at the head; followed by Robinson, Bissell, & Co. (M. Gilmore), Blux- 
ome & Co. (J D. C., Isaac, jr, and Joseph, Isaac being the famous vigilance 
secretary in 1851 and 1856), Caughey & Bromley, Everett & Co. (Theo. Shil- 
laber), Gardner Furniss, Jas C. Hasson, Hunter & Bro., Dungan, Moore, & 
Prendergast, Orrego Bros, Rob. Wells & Co., Hussey, Bond, & Hale, com. 
mers; Jos, S. Spinney, shipping; Plummer & Brewster, wholesale mers; B. 
Triest, store; W. C. Hoff, grocer, at end of pier. On Battery st were Collins 
(D.), Cushman, & Co., mers. 

The section of Montgomery st between Sacramento and California had, in 
1849, been transformed from an outskirt to a thickly settled business quarter, 


floated freely upon the infected atmosphere. It was 
in fact the headquarters of the British convict class, 

and its prospects were significantly foreshadowed in the location of the cus 
tom-house in the four-story brick building erected in 1849 by W. H. Davis, 
at the N. w. corner of California st. Access was by outside double stairways, 
leading from balcony to balcony on the front side. It appears to have been 
occupied by Collector Jas Collier in June 1850. In May 1851 it was burned. 
View in S. F. Annals, 282. At the Calif ornia-st corner were also A. Swain, 
com. mer., and Runkel, Kaufman, & Co., dry goods. Northward in the sec 
tion were situated the offices of J. B. Cannon & Co. (S. J. Gowan), W. G. 
Kettelle, aucs and com. mers; Hinrickson, Reinecke, & Co. (C. F. Cipnani, 
S. V. Meyers), Edwin Herrick, S. Moss, jr, Hy. Reed & Co., Winston & Sim 
mons (S. C.), S. A. & J. G. Thayer, Wm H. Davis, com. mers, the last long 
established; M. L. Cavert, J. A. Clark, P. F. Hazard, John H. Titcomb, Titts 
& Tilden, P. D. Woodruff, mers; S. Brannan, real estate broker; John S. 
Eagan, paints, two doors above the custom-house; S. Neagebauer, stationery; 
John Curry, counsellor (later chief justice). A notable feature of the section 
was the presence of several express agents, Adams & Co., soon to become a 
banking-house, Haven (J. P.) & Co., Hawley & Co., Todd & Co. Here was 
also the office of the Cal. Courier, and Rowe s Olympic Circus formed a strong 
attraction to this quarter. It had been opened Oct. 29, 1849, with Ethiopian 
serenaders, as the first public dramatic spectacle of the city. 

Between California and Clay sts I find a number of firms, whose offices 
are numbered from 243 to 2G9, as Aspinwall (J. & Ph.) & Bro., A. B. Cheshire, 
Jas Clark, Van Drumme & Clement, Mace & Cole, B. H. Howell, J. S. Mason, 
E. R. Myers, Turnbull & Walton, Cook, Wilmerding, & Tracy, Winter & 
Latimer, com. mers; Wm Meyer & Co. (Kunhardt, H. R.,), importers, Capt. 
Thos Smith, Fred. Thibault, F. C. Bennett, Gus. Beck, O. P. Sutton, mers; 
John Aldersley & Co., ship brokers; Hedley & Cozzens, wholesale grocers; 
Middleton (S P.) & Hood (J. M.), Payne (T.) & Sherwood (W. J.), aucs; Hy. 
Meiggs, of North Beach and Peruvian fame, lumber dealer; Austin (H.) & 
Prag, tinware; F D. Blythe, hardware. 

California st was in 1850 acquiring recognition as of business importance, 
and Starkey, Janion, & Co., who had ^ng been established near the s. w. 
corner of Sansome, in an enclosed two-story house, gave strength to it by 
then erecting a fine brick warehouse. So did Cooke (J. J. & G. L.), Baker 
(R. S.), & Co., and others speedily followed the example, assisting, moreover, 
to advance the water frontage, which by Oct. 1850 extended 400 ft into the 
cove, with a breadth of 32 ft. There was a small landing-pier at Leidesdorff s 
warehouse, at the Leidesdorff-st corner. Here was the store of S. H. Wil 
liams & Co. (Wm Baker, jr, - and J. B. Post), in a one-story frame house, bor 
dering on the later Bank of California site. On the opposite south side, Dr 
John Townsend, the large lot-owner and former alcalde, had his office and 
residence West of him were the stores of Glen & Co. (T. Glen, Ed. Stetson), 
De Boom, Vigneaux, & Griser, Backus & Harrison, com. mers, and farther along 
in the section, Jas Ball, Mack & Co., A. McQuadale, Probst (F.), Smith (St. 
A.), & Co , J. B. Wynn, Zehricke & Co., Alsop & Co., Helmann Bros & Co., 
Hastier, Baine, & Co., also com. mers; T. W. Dufau, importer; Glad win (W. 
H.) & Whitmore (H M., a large lot-owner in S. F.), jobbing. At the corner 
of Sansome st were Ebbets & Co. (D.W. C. Brown), Mumford, Mason (B. A.), 
& Co , Wm J, Whitney, com. mers; and on the site of the present Merchants 
Exchange stood Mrs Petit s boarding-house (subsequently on California st, 
N side, below Stockton). An agency for outer bar pilots was at Burnside & 
Nelson s. 

At the s. w, corner of California and Montgomery sts stood Leidesdorff s 
cottage, occupied by W. M D. Howard, and also at the corner were the offices 
of Jas Anderson & Co , brokers, J. H. Eccleston, mer.; V. Simons, clothing; 
and T. J. Paulterer, auc. At the Pine-st corner Lazard Freres had a dry- 


whose settlement, known as Sydney Town, extended 
hence north-eastward round the hill. It \vas the ral- 

goods store, and intermediate on Montgomery st were Crocker, Baker, & Co., 
water-works; Fry (C.) & Cessin (F.), Evans & Robinson, Kuhtmann & Co., 
com. mers. The first house on Summer st was a 1. \-story cottage, 20 by 40 
ft, erected by Williams for Edm. Scott. Near by were the coal-yard of A T. 
Ladd, and two hotels, the Montgomery and Cape Cod houses, the latter 
under the management of Crocker, Evans, & Taylor. 

In the next section of Montgomery st, between Pine and Bush sts, stood 
Liitgen s hotel, facing the later Russ House. A strong two-story frame 
building with peaked roof and projecting second story, it presented a quaint 
old-fashioned landmark for about a quarter of a century, and formed one of 
the best-known German resorts. On the s. E. corner of Pine st figured a 
corrugated iron house imported by Berenhart, Jacoby, & Co., and on the 
s. w. corner a. one-and-a-half -story cottage, occupied by the German grocery of 
Geo. Soho. Adjoining it rose a three-story pitched-roof wooden hotel, the 
American, kept by a German, and opposite, on the site of the later Platt s 
hall, Dr Enscoe had a wooden house. At the N. w. corner of Bush st 0. 
Kloppenburg (later city treasurer), kept a grocery. This west side of the 
block was owned by J. C. C. & A. G. Russ, the jewellers, who had a house 
011 Bush st, and who later erected the well-known Russ house. The cloth 
ing-store of Peyser Bros was here, also the syrup factory of Beaudry & Co., 
and the confectionery store of H. W. Lovegrove. At the Bush-st corner was 
the office of Haas & Struver, com. mers, and beyond, toward Sutter st, that 
of Pierre Felt, wine mer. This region was as yet an outskirt; sidewalks ex 
tended but slowly beyond California st after the summer of 1850, and the 
pedestrian found it hard work to go through the sand drifts to the many 
tents scattered around. 

Sansome st, as bordering the bay, had rather the advantage of Montgom 
ery st, for here business houses stretched along in considerable numbers from 
California to Bush st. Neighbors of Starkey, Janion, & Co. , on the California 
corner, were Wilson (J. D. ) & Jarvis, wholesale grocers; and at the junction 
of Pine st were the offices of Macondray (F. W.) & Co. (R. S. Watson), in a 
two-story house; M. Rudsdale, E. S. Stone & Co. (F. T. Durand), com. mers. 
One of the corners was held by the Merrimac house of Williams & Johnson, 
northward rose the New England house of W. B. Wilton, and toward Bush the 
New Bedford house of John Britnell. Near it was the office of Town & Van 
Winkle, and the lemonade factory of Al. Wilkie. On the east side, between 
California and Pine sts, the India stores of Gillespie (C. V.) & Co. extended 
over the cove. In the same section, mostly on the west side, were located 
Dewey (S. S.) & Heiser, C. M. Seaver, E. Woodruff & Co., mers; G. W. 
Burnham, lumber dealer; Davis (W. H.) & Caldwell s (J., jr) lemonade 
factory; E. S. Holden & Co. (J. H. Redington). druggists; S W. Jones & 
Co., coal and wood yard. 

On Pine st were several offices, of T. F. Gould, Chas Warner, mers, above 
Sansome; Schule, Christiansen, & Hellen, importers; W. H. Culver, ship 
mer. ; Robinson, Arnold, & Sewall, J. C. W^oods & Co., com. mers. This street 
adjoined the wharf begun by the city corporation at the end of Market st, in 
the autumn of 1850, and limited for the time to 600 ft. This opened another 
prospect for development in this quarter. 

Beyond Pine st huge sand ridges formed so far a barrier to traffic; yet in 
between them, and upon the slopes, were sprinkled cottages, shanties, and 
tents, with occasionally a deck house or galley taken from some vessel, occu 
pied by a motley class. A path skirted the ridge along the cove, at the 
junction of Bush and Battery sts, and entered by First st into Happy Valley, 
which centred between First and Second, Mission and Natoma sts, and into 
Pleasant Valley, which occupied the Howard-st end. This region, sheltered 
by the ridges to the rear, which, on the site of the present Palace hotel, rose 


lying-point for pillaging raids, and to it was lured 
many an unwary stranger, to be dazed with a sand-bag 

nearly three score feet in height, had attracted a large number of inhabitants, 
especially dwellers in frail tents, but with a fair proportion of neat cottages, 
as well as shops and lodging-houses, among these the Isthmus. The advan 
tages of this quarter for factories were growing in appreciation, especially 
for enterprises connected with the repair of vessels, and soon J. & P. Dono- 
hue were to found here their iron-works. On Fremont st, between Howard 
and Folsom sts, was the office of H. Taylor & Co., com. and storage; and on 
the corner of Mission and First sts, that of Phil. McGovern. On Second, 
near Mission st, rose the Empire brewery of W Ball, the first of its kind. 
The richer residents of this region had withdrawn just beyond this line, and 
on Mission, between Second and Third sts, dwellings had been erected by 
Howard, Mellus (whose name was first applied to Natoma st), and Brannan, 
whose names were preserved in adjoining streets. These, as well as a few 
more near by, owned by Folsom, were cottages imported by the Onward. 
Among the occupants were the wives of Van Winkle, Cary, and Wakeman, 
attached to the office of Capt. Folsom, the quartermaster. On Market st 
Father Maginnis 1 church was soon to mark an epoch, and south-eastward an 
attenuated string of habitations reached as far as Rincon Point, where Dr 
J. H. Gihon had, in Nov 1849, erected a rubber tent, on the later U. S. 
marine hospital site. 

Thus far I have enumerated the notable occupants of the heavy business 
section along Montgomery st and water-front east of it, and will now follow 
the parallel streets running north to south, Kearny, Dupont, Stockton, and 
Powell, after which come the latitudinal cross-streets from the Presidio and 
North Beach region toward the Mission. 

At the foot of Telegraph hill on Kearny st, from Broadway to Jackson 
st, began the west and northward spreading Mexican quarter, and the only 
building here of general interest was the Adams house, kept by John Adams. 
At the S.E, Pacific-st corner stood the four-story balcony building lately pur 
chased for a city hall, with jail, court-rooms, etc. In one of the latter Rev. 
A. Williams held services for the First Presbyterian church. On the opposite 
corner were the Tattersall livery-stable, and the firms of Climax, Roy, & 
Breimen, and Dunne, McDonald, & Co., com. mers and real estate. Along 
toward Jackson st were the offices of Markwald, Caspary, & Co., mers; of 
Dow(J. G.) & Co. (J. O. Eldridge), auc. and com. mers; S McD Thompson, 
gen. store; Mebius, Duisenberry, & Co., fancy goods; the Pacific News daily 
was issued here by Winchester & Allen. Mrs E. Gordon kept the Mansion 
house. In the section between Jackson and Washington sts business ap 
proached more and more the retail element for which Kearny has ever been 
noted. At the Jackson-st corners two druggists faced each other, S. Adam * 
and E. P. Sanford; Reynolds & Co. were grocers, and G. & W. Snook, tin 
and stove dealers. There were, however, a jobbing-house, Cooper & Co , and 
three aiictioneers, Shankland & Gibson, Allen Pearce, and Sampson & Co 
H. H. Haight, counsellor and later governor, had his office at the Jackson-st 
corner; the Mariposa house was kept by B. Vallefon; and the well-known 
English ale-house, the Boomerang, by Langley & Griffiths, was widely pat 
ronized by literary men and actors. 

These last two features formed the main element of the next section, the 
plaza of Portsmouth square, strongly reenforced by gambling-halls. The most 
noted of these establishments, the El Dorado, controlled in 1850 by Cham 
bers & Co., stood at the s. E. corner of Washington st Successive fires 
changed it from a canvas structure to a frame building, and finally P. Sherre- 
beck, who owned the lot, erected upon it the Our House refectory. Adjoin 
ing it on the south was the famous Parker house, hostelry and gambling-place, 
managed in 1850 by Thos Maguire & Co. , who here soon promoted the erec 
tion of the Jenny Lind theatre upon the site, which again yielded to the city 


blow, and robbed, perhaps to be hurled from some 
Tarpeian projection into the bay. West of this quar- 

hall, as described elsewhere. Its former neighbor, Denison s Exchange, for 
liquors and cards, had been absorbed by other enterprises, and southward 
along the row in 1850 figured the Empire house of Dodge & Bucklin, and the 
Crescent City house of Winley & Lear, the firm of Thurston & Reed, and the 
dry-goods establishment of B. F. Davega & Co. Opposite, on the s. w. cor 
ner of Clay, stood that YerbaBuena landmark, the story -and-a-half tiled adobe 
City hotel, devoted, with out-buildings, to travellers, gamblers, and offices, the 
latter including for a time those of the alcaldes. Higher on Clay st rose the 
well-known Ward or Bryant house, and intermediate the offices of F. Argenti 
& Co. (T. Allen), bankers; Peter Dean, Berford & Co. s express, and Baldwin & 
Co., jewellers. Another jewelry firm, Loring & Hogg, occupied Ward s court. 

Along the west side of the plaza stood the public school-house, which had 
been converted into concert hall and police-station, and the adobe custom 
house bordering on Washington st, which had been used for municipal offices 
for a time. Down along Washington st the A Ita California publishing office of 
E. Gilbert & Co. faced the plaza, and eastward to the corner were the bank 
ing-house of Palmer, Cook, & Co. and the offices of Glaysen Co. (W. Tinte- 
man), and Stevenson (J. D.) & Parker (W. C.), land agents. Theirs was an 
adobe building in 1850, replacing the Colonnade hotel of 1848, and soon to 
yield to other occupants, notably the Bella Union. Wright & Co. s Miners 
bank, which stood at this corner a while, may be said to have revived in the 
Veranda on the N. E. corner. On the plaza was also Laffan s building, chiefly 
with lawyers offices, as Wilson, Benham, & Rice, Nath. Holland, Ogden 
Hoffman, jr, Norton, Satterlee, & Norton. Along Kearny st, toward Sac 
ramento st, were the offices of Thurston & Reed, P. D. Van Blarcom, com. 
mers; Ansalin, Merandol, & Co., importers, on the Sacramento corner; C. 
Lux, stock dealer; Newfield, Walter, & Co., Treadwell & Co., S. Howard, 
clothing, etc. ; the Commercial-st corners were occupied by Van Houten & 
Co. s meat market; here the Tammany Hall of the Hounds, and Rowe s cir 
cus had stood a while, facing the adobe dwelling of Vioget, the surveyor, in 
which, or adjoining, Madam Rosalie kept a restaurant. Opposite were the 
noted New York bakery of Swan & Thompson, and San Jose hotel of T. N. 
Starr (or J. G-. Shepard & Co.). 

In the next section toward California st were established Adelsdorfer & 
Schwarz, McDonald (W. F. & S. G.) & Co. (J. K. Bailey, A. T. Cool, J. M. 
Teller), Kroning, Plump, & Runge, com. mers, the latter at the California 
corner; A. H. Sibley & Co. ; at the Sacramento corner were also B. Courtois 
dry-goods store; Mrs C. Bouch, crockery; Merchants hotel. Between Cali 
fornia and Pine sts appears to have been another New York bakery, by R. 
W. Acker, and near the present California market was the Kearny-st market 
by Blattner & Smith. Here were also three groceries of Atter & Carter, Lam- 
mer & Waterman, and Potter and Lawton; Geo. A. Worn, Ed. Porter, Eug. 
Bottcher, and C. F. Dunoker are marked as com. mers, the latter two at 
the California corner, and Porter south of Pine st. Beyond Pine were Chip- 
man, Brown, & Co. , grocers, Hy. Rapp, storage, Brown s (Phil. ) hotel, and the 
Masonic hall, followed by scattered dwellings along the new plank road to 
the mission. Dupont st partook of the Kearny-st elements of business, 
though little contaminated by gambling. The northern part was assigned to 
residences, among them the dwellings of W. S. Clark, the broker, and Rev. 
A. Williams, between Vallejo and Pacific sts. At the latter corner Morgan 
& Batters kept a grocery, and beyond rose the Globe hotel of Mrs B. V. 
Koch, the dry-goods shop of Cohen, Kaufmann, & Co., and the office of C. 
Koch, mer. At the Jackson-st corners of Dupont st stood the Albion house 
of B. Keesing, and Harm s (H.) hotel; and here, at the N. E. corner, a three- 
story building was contracted for in Sept. 1849 by the California guard, the 
first military company of the city, for $21,000. At the Washington-st cor- 


ter, up Yallejo and Broadway streets, with the Catho 
lic church and bull-ring, and northward along the hill, 

ner was another hotel, the Excellent house of Jas Dyson, also the dry-goods 
shop of Hess & Bros, the office of Maume & Dee, and the residence of 
G. Beck. Intermediate were Mich. Casaforth, mer., and Johnson & Co., 

In the section south of Washington st stood on the east side the houses of 
Gillespie and Noe; at the north-west corner of Clay the casa grande of 
Richardson, on the site of his tent, the first habitation in Yerba Buena, and 
which stood till 1852. On the opposite west corner, the site of the first house 
in Yerba Buena, Leese s, rose the St Francis hotel, a three-story edifice formed 
of. several superimposed imported cottages managed by W. H. Parker. 

On the opposite corner Moffat & Co., assayers and bankers, and Sill & 
Conner s stationery and book shop, the first regular stationery store in the 
city, it is claimed. Northward, Mullot & Co., com. mers. and Jos. Smith s 
provision shop. 

On the Sacramento-st corner Nath. Gray had an undertakers shop; 
and at the California end Jas Dows, of vigilance fame, had a liquor store. 
Beyond him C. L. Taylor exhibited the sign of a lumber and com. mer. 
Stockton st was essentially for residences, with many neat houses from 
Clay st northward. At Green st stood a two-story dwelling from Boston, 
occupied by F. Ward, and removed only in 1865; opposite was the lumber 
yard of A. W. Renshaw, and a little northward Hy. Pierce s Eagle bakery; 
at the Vallejo corner P. F. Sander wasser kept a grocery; southward rose the 
American hotel, which was for a time the city hall, the residences of Gilder- 
meister and De Fremery, and south of Broadway, Merrill s house. At the 
N. E. Pacific corner was the Shades tavern of 1848, and southward the gro 
cery of Eddy (J. C.) & Co. At the W T ashington-st corners were the houses of 
W. D. M. Howard, and Palmer, of Beck & Palmer; and at the Sacramento 
end, those of Jas Bowles, Jonat Cade, and Crumme, mers. Powell st, of the 
same stamp as the preceding, was graced by the presence of three churches: 
Trinity, Rev. F. S. Mines; Methodist Episcopal, Rev. W. Taylor; and Grace 
Chapel, Rev. S. L. Ver Mehr. The latter two resided on Jackson st near 
Powell. Rev. 0. C. Wheeler lived at the corner of Union. Three other 
temples existed on adjoining cross-streets. At the N. w. Washington corner 
a two-story brick building was about to be erected, which with subsequent 
changes in grades received two additional stories. At the N. E. corner of 
Broadway 0. Mowry had an adobe cottage; at the corners of Green st lived 
C. Hoback and Chas Joseph. 

At the corner of Filbert st was the adobe dwelling of Ira Briones, by which 
the main path to the presidio turned westward to cross the Russian hill, 
past market gardens and dairies, with scattered cottages, sheds, and butch 
ers shambles. On the ridge stood the house of L. Haskell, overlooking the 
hollow intervening toward Black Point, beyond which lay Washerwoman s 
lagoon, a name confirmed to it by the laundry here established by A. T. 
Easton, patronized by the Pacific mail line. The presidio was then not the 
trim expanse of buildings now to be seen, but stood represented by some 
dingy -looking idobes, supplemented by barn-like barracks, and a few neater 
cottages for the officers, while beyond, at the present Fort Point, crumbling 
walls fronted the scanty earth- works with their rusty, blustering guns. 

North Bench was becoming known as a lumber depository. Geo. H. 
Ensign figured as dealer in this commodity, and near him, on Mason by 
Francisco st, Harry Meiggs, of dawning aldermanic fame, had availed him 
self of the brook fed by two springs to erect a saw-mill. Close by stood 
Capt. Welsh s hide-house, by the road leading to the incipient wharf which 
foreshadowed a speedy and more imposing structure. 

On Union st, near Mason, Wm Sharron, broker and commission merchant, 
had his residence. On Green st the number of resident business men in- 


the Hispano- Americans were grouping round what was 
then termed Little Chile; while less concentrated, the 

creased. A. Hugues and Rob. McClenachan lived near Stockton and Tay 
lor, respectively, and Levi Stowell, of Williams & Co., near the former. 
Between Stockton and Powell Capt. Tibbey, as he declares in his Stat., MS., 
19, had erected a section-made house from Hawaii for his wife. A similar 
house from Boston, near Stockton st, was in 1850 occupied by F. Ward. It 
stood till 1865. On Vallejo were to be found G. Bilton, Rob. Graham, Edm. 
Hodson, and Thos Smith, merchants, between Stockton and Powell. In the 
block below rose the Roman Catholic church, and by its side extended the 
bull-fighting arena, so dear to the Mexicans as a compensatory aftermath to 
the solemn restraint of the worship. All around and along the slopes of Tele 
graph hill extended the dwellings of this nationality, and among them, on 
Broadway between Stockton and Dupont, the more imposing quarter of Jos. 
Sanchez, broker. The block below, between Dupont and Montgomery, has 
been alluded to as containing an undesirable collection of low drinking-dens, 
fringed by the abodes of Sydney convicts and other scum. 

On Pacific st began the business district proper once more, sprinkled with 
several inns, such as Crescent house of S. Harding, Mclntire house, Planter s 
hotel of J. Stigall, and Waverly house of B. F. Bucknell, the latter a four- 
story frame building, on the less reputable north side, charging $5 a day. In 
this block, between Montgomery and Kearny, were the offices of Boschultz 
& Miller, and Brown & Phillips, merchants; Salmon & Ellis, ship and com. 
mer.; Wilson & Co., grocers, Jackson & Shirley, crockery and grocery. 
Above, between Kearny and Dupont, resided J. B. Weller, subsequently gov 
ernor, of the firm of Weller, Jones, & Kinder; near by W. H. West kept a 
grocery, and A. A. Austin a bakery. Higher up toward Stockton were Fox, 
O Connor, and Gumming, and F. Kauffman & Co., dry-goods dealers. Ad 
joining stood a groggery which had since 1846 dispensed refreshments to way 
farers to the presidio. Above, between Mason and Powell, rose Bunker Hill 
house, graced for a time by the later bankers Flood and O Brien. On Jack 
son st, between Mason and Powell, were several prominent residents, includ 
ing C. H. Cook, com. mer., and at the Stockton corner lived W. H. Davis. 
At the corner of Virginia st, a lane stretching below Powell st, between Broad 
way and Washington, stood the First Congregational church, Rev. T. D. Hunt. 
Here was also the office of Blanchard & Carpenter. Below Stockton were Mayer, 
Bro., & Co., grocers; C. Prechet& Co., druggists; H. M. Snyder, stoves. Below 
Dupont, Capt. W. Chard, Carter, Fuller, & Co., Hy. Mackie, Ben. Reynolds, 
Jas Stevenson, com. mers; Chas Durbee, mer.; Johnson & Caufield, clothing; 
J. Leclere, gen. store; J. Benelon, French store. The Ohio house is placed here, 
and the Philadelphia house where began the fire of Sept. 1850, and below Kearny 
the California house of J. Cotter & Co. Here flourished the Evening Picayune, 
Gihon & Co., and two French establishments, Dupasquier & Co., and F. Schultz 
French-goods shop; S. Martin, importer; W. & C. Pickett, Schesser & Vaii- 
bergen, mers; J. & M. Phelan, wholesale liquor dealers; Joel Noah, clothing. 

On Washington st, at the corner of Mason, stood H. Husband s bath 
house; below was the grocery of W. E. Rowland; and between Stockton and 
Dupont sts C. S. Bates kept a druggist shop. Above this, the First Baptist 
church, Rev. 0. C. Wheeler. At the corner of Washington lane, which ran 
below Dupont to Jackson st, Bauer s drug-store was first opened. Below 
Kearny st ran another cross-lane to Jackson, Maiden lane, on which C. Nut 
ting had established a smithy and iron-works, while adjoining him, on the 
corner, were the Washington baths of Mygatt & Bryant. Opposite this lane, 
to Merchant st, ran Dunbar alley, so named after Dunbar s California bank, 
at its mouth. At the parallel passage, De Boom avenue, A. Miiller had 
opened a hotel, and near by a brick building was going up for theatrical pur 
poses. On the north side C. L. Ross had in 1848-9 kept his New York store. 
In the same section, between Kearny and Montgomery sts, were the offices 


cognate French sought their proximity along Jackson 
street, with two hotels offering significant welcome at 

of Bodenheim & Sharff, Dundar & Gibbs, Reynolds & Letter, Marriesse & 
Burthey, Medina, Hartog, & Co., J. S. Moore & Co. (F. Michael), Morris, Levi, 
& Co., F. Gibbs, Gallarid, Hart, & Co., Arnold & Winter, coin, mers; P. 
Schloss & Co., mers; L. & J. Blum, L. A. Hart & Co., Steinberger & Kauf 
man, A. Kiser, Rosenzweig & Lask, M. Levi & Co., Potedamer & Rosenbaum, 
clothing; W. D. Forman & Co., grocers; Hastings & Co. (S. & T. W.), variety 
store; Smiley (Jas), Korn, & Co., hardware; Rob. Turnbull, broker. 

At the head of Clay st stood the City hospital of Dr P. Smith, destroyed 
Oct. 31, 1850. Near by, above Stockton st, was the paper warehouse of G. 
A. Brooks and the house of Jas Crook, mer. Below Stockton st ran the 
parallel Pike st, at the corner of which stood the post-office, at a rental of 
$7,200 a year. Since its first location on the N. w. corner of Washington 
and Montgomery sts it had been moved to the N. E. corner of Washington 
and Stockton, then to the above location, and in 1851 to a zinc-covered build 
ing on the N. E. corner of Dupont and Clay sts. So much for the instability 
which stamped the city and county generally in these early days. At the 
other corner rose the Bush house of Hy. Bush, a few steps above the fashion 
able St Francis hotel, and opposite Woodruff s jewelry shop. On Pike st, 
tha latter well-known R. B. Woodward kept a coffee shop. Near by, on 
Clay st, resided Allen Pierce and A. A. Selover. Between Dupont st and 
the plaza was the book-store of Wilson Spaulding, and the hardware shop 
of Aug. Morrison. Clay st below Kearny was mainly a dry-goods row, to 
judge from the number of the dealers, as Lacombe & Co., importers; W. E. 
Keyes, Hy. Kraft & Co., Moore, Tickenor, & Co., Josiah Morris, on Clay st 
row, J. B. Simpson, Ulmer & Co., Oscar Uny, dealers; besides Geo. Bergo, 
Lewis Lewis, Isaac Myers, who advertised both dry goods and clothing, there 
were also the special clothing-stores of Heller, Lehman, & Co. ( W. Cohen), Jos. 
Goldstein, Langfield, & Co. (S. & J. Haningsberger), Kelsey, Smith, & Risley. 
The street boasted moreover of two bankers, Page (F. W.), Bacon, & Co. 
(D. Chambers, Hy. Haight) and B. Davidson, agent for Rothschild; C. Platt, 
mer. ; Cohn Kauflinan & Co. (A. Ticroff ), W. M. Jacobs, Sinton & Bagley, 
Hawks, Parker, & Co., Larned & Sweet, Pioche & Bayerque, com. mers, and 
several connected with dry goods; P. Rutledge & Co., tinsmiths; Bennett & 
Kirby, hardware; Tillman & Dunn, manuf. jewellers; Hayes & Bailey (or 
Lyndall), jewellers; M. Lewis, importer of watches; Stedman & White, 
watchmakers; Sanchez Bros (B. & S.), real estate brokers; Marriott (F.) & 
Anderson, monetary agents, in Cross & Hobson s building, on the N. side, 
half-way to Montgomery st; opposite had long stood Vioget s or Portsmouth 
house. Dr A. J. Bowie, and Dr Wm Rabe, druggist; Chipman & \Voodman s 
Clay-st reading-rooms; C. Elleard s oyster-rooms, N. side; Adelphi theatre, s. 

On the short parallel Commercial st, not yet fully opened, figured the 
Commercial-street house, P. S. Gordon; the Atheneum Exhibition of Dr 
Colyer; J. W. Tucker, jeweller; G. W. Dart, drinking-saloon, and about to 
open baths on Montgomery st. 

Sacramento st was already becoming known as Little China, from the es 
tablishment of some Mongol merchants upon its north line, on either side of 
Dupont st, but this had not as yet involved a loss of caste, for several promi 
nent people occupied the section between Dupont and Kearny st. Folsom 
lived in a house built by Leidesdorff on the N. side; Halleck, Peachy, & Bil 
lings, counsellors, Piingsthorn, Hey man, & Co., com. mers, Gibson Tibbits, 
had their offices here; Convert & Digrol kept a fancy-goods shop; Selby (T.) 
& Post (Phil.), metal dealers. In the section below Kearny st: Fitzgerald, 
Bausch, Brewster, & Co., Simonsfield, Bach, Co., W. M. Coughlin, Cramer, 
Raubach, & Co., gen. importers; Spech Baugher, G. H. Beach, J. B. & A. 
J. George, D. S. Hewlett & Co. (B. Richardson), Tower, Wood, Co., D. J. 


Clark Point. Little China was already forming on 
Sacramento street, and the widely scattered Germans 
had a favorite resort at the end of Montgomery street. 

Mavrenner (of Wallis &Co., Stockton), Lambert & Co. (F. F. Low, later gov.), 
com. iners; F. Ro^enbaum, dry goods & jobbing; Cooper & Co. (J. & I.), 
Simon Heiter, S. Rosenthal, H. Unger, Adelsdorfer & Neustadter, dry goods; 
J. M. Caughlin, Simmons, Lilly, & Co., Swift & Bro. (S. & J.), gen. dealers; 
Jos. E. de la Montana, stoves, etc. ; Kelly & Henderson, J. Sharp, Tyler & 
Story, grocers; D. J. Oliver Co., D. C. McGlynn, paints; Geo. Vowels, 
furniture; Byron house, by Bailey & Smith, and the Raphael and Marye res 
taurants. The third wooden house on the street was imported by Bluxome, 
the famous vigilance secretary, and in this, probably a double cottage, J. R. 
Garniss had his office. On California st, below Stockton, were the fashion 
able boarding-houses of Mrs Petit and Leland, both on the N. side, the Mur 
ray house of Jas Hair, and among residences, those of Whitmore, bought of 
Rodman Price and Gen. Cazneau, a three-story frame building, of sections 
rescued from a wreck. It stood on the s. w. corner of Dupont st. On the 
north side, near Kearny st, in a two-story house, lived the rich and erratic 
Dr Jones, dressing like a grandee, and hoarding gold, it was said. In the 
section below Kearny st was the U. S. quartermaster s office, Capt. Folsom; 
Salas, Bascunen, Fehrman, & Co., Ed. Vischer, Hort Bros, White Bros, 0. B. 
Jennings, mers and importers; Louis Bruch, Esche, Wapler, & Co., Ruth, 
Tissot (S. C.), & Co., com. mers, the latter two at the corner of Spring st; J. 
S. Hershaw, gen. grocer; P. Naylor, iron, tin, etc., in the brick building 
erected on the later Cal. market site, for Fitzgerald, Bausch, & Brewster; 
Nelson & Baker, blacksmiths, on Webb st. In this lane Capt. Hewlitt, of 
tha New York volunteers, built a boarding-house, on the w. side, and here 
was the residence of the Fuller family, which owned half the block. Jas 
Ward had a cottage nearer Montgomery st, which became a boarding-house, 
perhaps the Duxbury hous e of Alb. Marshall. The Elephant house of A. G-. 
Oakes, and the Dramatic museum of Robinson & Everard, were not far from 
the Circus site. 

Southward we come once more to the odd scattered habitations, shanties, 
and tents, which intervened between the bare sand hills and chaparral-fringed 
hollow. On Pine st, above Montgomery st, I find the office of E. Brown, 
mer., and Richelieu s hotel with its French restaurant. Along Kearny st 
to Third, and up Mission st led the path to Mission Dolores, much frequented, 
especially on Sundays, and by equestrians, for the sand made walking too 
tiresome. This route was now about to be improved by the construction 
of a plank road, under grant of Nov. 1850, for seven years, to C. L. Wilson 
and his partners, with a stock of $150,000. It was finished by the following 
spring for $96,000, and paid eight per cent monthly interest to the share 
holders. The toll charged was 25 cents for a mounted man, 75 c. for vehicles, 
$1 for wagons with four animals; driven stock, 5 or 10 cts. The toll-gate 
was moved successively from Post st, Third st, Mission and Fourth, and be 
yond. In some places, as at Seventh st, the swamps were such as to make 
piling useless and require corduroy formation, yet this settled in time five 
feet. The city was too heavily in debt to undertake the construction; and 
while the mayor vetoed the grant to a private firm, the legislature confirmed 
it. By selling half the interest Wilson got funds to complete the road. 
Subsequently the company opened Folsom st to ward off competition, and 
still divided three per cent a month. For details concerning the plank road, 
see Pac. News, Picayune, Nov. 4, 20, 1850, et seq.; Hittelts S. F., 151-3; 
Annals S. F., 297-8; Bart-y and Pattens Men and Mem., 108-9. 

Mission st presented the best exit south-westward, for Market st re 
mained obstructed long after 1856 by several ridges, one hill at the corner of 
Dupont st alone measuring 89 ft in height. The hill at Second st, fiercely 
contested by squatters in the early fifties against Woodworth, the vigilance 


Dupont street bore a more sedate appearance, with 
its mixture of shops and residences, its armory at 
Jackson street for the first city guard, and its land 
marks in Richardson s casa grande on the site of his 
tent, the first habitation in Yerba Buena, and in 
Leese s house, the first proper building of the pueblo, 
both at the Clay-street corners below the post-office. 
Stockton street, stretching from Sacramento to Green 
streets, presented the neatest cluster of dwellings, 
and Powell street was the abode of churches; for of 
the six temples in operation in the middle of 1850, 
three graced its sides, and two stood upon cross-streets 
within half a block. Mason street, above it, was 
really the western limit of the city, as Green street 
was the northern. Beyond Mason street ran the trail 
to the presidio, past scattered cottages, cabins, and 
sheds, midst dairies and gardens, with a branch path 

president, had by that time vanished into the bay. Nevertheless, there were 
a few early occupants on the upper Market st. At the Stockton and Ellis 
junction J. Sullivan had a cottage, Merrill one on the later Jesuit college site, 
and 011 Mason st near Eddy, Hy. Gerke of viticultural fame rejoiced in an at 
tractive two-story peaked-roof residence; near by lived a French gardener. 
This was the centre of Saint Ann Valley, through which led a less-used trail 
to the mission, by way of Bush and Stockton sts, passing Judge Burritt s 
house and Dr Gates at the s.w. corner of Geary and Stockton sts, facing the 
high sand hill which covered the present Union square. At the s. w. end of 
this square rose a three-story laundry. The site of the present city hall, at 
the junction of McAllister st, the authorities in Feb. 1850 set aside for the 
Yerba Buena cemetery, Ver Mehrs Checkered Life, 344, which had first existed 
at the bay terminus of Vallejo st, and subsequently for a brief time on the 
north-west slope toward North Beach, near Washington square. Beiiton, in 
Hayes 1 Cal. Notes, v. 60. The new site was the dreariest of them all, relieved 
by a solitary manzanita with blood-red stalk midst the stunted shrubbery. 

From the cemetery a path led past C. V. Gillespie s house to Mission st, 
at Sixth st, where began a bridge for crossing the marsh extending to Eighth 
st. To the left, at the s. w. corner of Harrison and Sixth, or Simmons st, 
Russ, the jeweller, had a country residence which was soon opened as a pleas 
ure garden, especially for Germans. John Center, the later capitalist, was a 
gardener in the vicinity. At the mouth of Mission creek lived Rosset. 
Beyond the bridge Stepnen C. Massett, Jeemes Pipes, had for a time a 
cottage. Then came the Grizzly road-side inn, near Potter st, with its chained 
bear. Further back stood the Half-way house of Tom Hayes, with inviting 
shrubbery. Near the present Woodward s Gardens a brook was crossed, 
after which the road was clear to the mission, where a number of dwellings 
clustered round the low adobe church, venerable in its dilapidation Valencia, 
Noe, Guerrero, Haro, Bernal, whose names are preserved in streets and hills 
around, and C. Brown, Denniston, Nuttman, and Jack Powers, were among the 
residents. The centre of attraction was the Mansion house where Bob Rid 
ley and C. V. Stuart dispensed milk punches to crowds of cavaliers, to whom 
the frequent Mexican attire gave a picturesque coloring. 


to the Marine Hospital on Filbert street, and another 
to the North Beach anchorage, where speculators 
were planning a wharf for attracting settlement in 
this direction. 

The accommodations offered to arrivals in 1849 were 
most precarious in character. Any shed was con 
sidered fit for a lodging-house, by placing a line of 
bunks along the sides, and leaving the occupant fre 
quently to provide his own bed-clothes. 21 Such crude 
arrangements prevailed to some extent also at the 
hotels, of which there were several. The first enti 
tled to the name was the City Hotel, a story-and-a-half 
adobe building, erected in 1846 on the plaza, 22 followed 
in 1848 by the noted Parker House, 23 the phoenix of 
many fires, and in 1849 by a large number of others, 24 

21 Such a shed, with crates along the walls, adjoined the City hotel. 
Crosty s Events, MS., 13. Bartlett, Stat., MS., 9, mentions three tiers of 
bunks in one room. Many were glad to remain on board the vessel which 
brought them. 

22 On s. w. corner of Clay and Kearny sts. The half-story consisted of 
gable garrets beneath the tile roof. It had a railed porch, and square, deep- 
silled windows. Parker had reopened it in July 1848. Larlciris Doc., vi. 144. 
Bayard Taylor obtained a garret there in 1849. Eldorado, 55. See also 
Merrill s Stat., MS., 3. The lease of $16,000 a year granted in 1848 left a 
large profit by subdivisions and subrenting. A Ua Cal., Sept. 21, 1851, and 
other current journals. 

23 On the east side of the plaza, near Washington st, where the old city 
hall now stands. It was a two-story-and-a-half frame building with a front 
age of 60 feet, begun in the autumn of 1848, and still in the builder s hands in 
April 1849, when lumber cost $600 per 1,000 feet. Little s Stat., MS., 3; 
Grimshaw s Nar., MS., 14. It rented for $9,000, and subsequently for $15,000 
per month, half of the sum paid by gamblers who occupied the second floor. 
Subleases brought $50,000 profit. Four days after its sale, on Dec. 20, 1849, 
it was burned. By May 4, 1850, it had beeii rebuilt at a cost of $40,000, only 
to* be destroyed the day of its completion. The lower floor was again in 
operation by May 27th. The rebuilding, including the Jenny Lind theatre, 
cost $100,000. It was once more reduced to ashes on the fire anniversary in 
the following year. Within a week lumber was on the ground for rebuild 
ing. Alta Cal., May 13, 1851; Henshaws Stat., MS., 1-2; Buffums Six Months, 
121-2; Woods Sixteen Mo., 46. The cost of the first building was placed at 
$30,000. Alta Cal., May 27, 1850. 

24 Broadway and Fremont hotels near Clark Point landing; St Francis, 
s.w. corner Clay and Dupont, a four-story building formed from several 
cottages; no gambling; managed in 1850 by Parker; ravaged by a solitary 
fire on Oct. 22, 1850; Ohio house on Jackson between Kearny and Dupont; 
German house on Dupont near Washington; Muller s, in Townsend avenue, 
on Washington; American hotel, with daily business of $300; U. S. hotel of 
Mrs King, claiming to accommodate 200 lodgers; Howard hotel; Merchants 
hotel of Dearborn and Sherman; Colonnade house of Win Conway on 
Kearny; Ward house on the Clay-st side of the plaza; Brown s hotel; 
Portsmouth house of E. P. Jones; G. Denecke s house oa the corner of 


many of which were lodging-houses, with restaurants 
attached. The latter presented a variety even greater 
than the other in methods and nationalities of owners, 
cooks, and waiters, or rather stewards, for where the 
servant was as good as the master the former term 
was deemed disrespectful. From the cheap and neat 
Chinese houses, marked by triangular yellow flags, 
wherein a substantial meal could be had for a dollar, 
the choice extended to the epicurean Delrnonico, 
where five times the amount would obtain only a 
meagre dinner. Intermediate ranged several German, 
French, and Italian establishments, with their differ 
ent specialties by the side of plain Yankee kitchens, 
English lunch-houses, and the representative fonda 
of the Hispano element, many in tents and some in 
omnibuses, which proving unavailable for traffic were 
converted to other uses. 25 Little mattered the na- 

Pacific and Sansome; Sutter hotel and restaurant by Ambrose and Ken 
dall; Barnum house of Mitchell, Carmon, and Spooner, opened on Sept. 15, 
1850, on Commercial between Montgomery and Keariiy; Ontario house; 
Stockton hotel of Starr and Brown, on Long Wharf; Healey house, opened 
in Dec. 1849, claimed to be then the most substantial house in the city; 
Graham house, imported bodily from Baltimore; Congress hall used for ac 
commodation. The first really substantial hotel was the Union, of brick, 
four and a half stories, opened in the autumn of 1850 by Selover & Co., a firm 
composed of Alderman Selover, Middleton, and E. V. Joice. It was built 
by J. W. Priestly, after the plan of H. N. White, the brick-work embracing 
500,000 bricks, contracted for completion within 26 days. The chandeliers, 
gilt frames, etc., fitted by J. B. M. Crooks and J. S. Caldwell. It extended 
between Clay and Washington for 160 feet, with a frontage of 29 feet on the 
east side of Kearny. It contained 100 rooms. The cost, including furni 
ture, was 250,000. Burned in May 1851, and subsequently it became a less 
fashionable resort. The construction of the more successful Oriental was 
begun in Nov. 1850, at the corner of Bush and Battery. Jones , at the cor 
ner of Sansome and California, first opened as a hotel by Capt. Folsom, but 
unsuccessfully, was soon converted into the Tehama house, much frequented 
by military men. For these and other hotels, I refer to Alta Gal, May 27, 
1850; Oct. 23, 1853; Mar. 8, 1867; Pac. News, Nov. 6, 8, Dec. 6, 22, 25, 27, 
1849; Jan. 1, 3, 5, Apr. 26, 27, Oct. 22, Nov. 9, 1850; Cal Courier, Sept. 12, 
14, 1850; 8. F. Picayune, Aug. 17, 30, Sept. 12, 16, 1850; S. F. Annals, 647 
et seq.; Bauer s Stat., MS., 2; Kimbatts Dir. y 1850. 

25 The Bay hotel (Pet. Guevil) and the Illinois house (S. Anderson), on 
Battery st; the Bruner house, Lovejoy s hotel (J. H. Brown), Lafayette hotel 
(L. Guiraud) and the Albion house (Croxton & Ward), on Broadway st; on 
Pacific st were the Marine hotel (C. C. Stiles), Hotel du Commerce (C. Ren 
ault), Crescent house (Sam. Harding), Planters hotel (J. Stigall), Mclntire 
house and the Waverly house (B. F. Bucknell); on Jackson st were the Com 
mercial hotel (J. Ford & Co.), Dalton house (Smith & Hasty), E. Pascual s 
Fonda Mejicana, the Philadelphia house and J. Cotter & Co. s California 
house. On Commercial st T. M. Rollins kept the Keunebec house, and P. S. 


ture of the accommodation to miners fresh from rough 
camps, or to immigrants long imprisoned within foul 
hulks, most of them half-starved on poorer provis 
ions. To them almost any restaurant or shelter 
seemed for a while at least a haven of comfort. Nor 
were all well provided with funds, and like the prudent 
ones who had come with the determination to toil and 
save, they preferred to leave such luxuries as eggs 
at seventy-five cents to a dollar each, quail and duck 
at from two to five dollars, salads one and a half to 
two dollars, and be content with the small slice of 
plain boiled beef, indifferent bread, and worse coffee 
served at the dollar places, 26 and with one of the 

Gordon the house bearing the name of the street. On Montgomery st stood 
the Star house (C. Webster), Irving house, Eureka hotel ( J. H. Davis & Co. ), 
Montgomery house, Cape Cod house (Crocker, Evans, & Taylor). Sansome 
st contained the Merrimac house (Williams & Johnson), New England house 
(W. B. Wilton), and the New Bedford house (Jno. Britnell), three names 
likely to attract the attention of newly arrived wanderers from the far East. 
On Kearny st were the Adams (Jno. Adams), mansion (Mrs E. Gordon), 
Mariposa (B. Vallafon), Crescent City (Winley & Lear), and San Jose houses, 
and the Graham hotel, which latter became the city hall in 1851. On Dupont 
st I find the Globe hotel (Mrs B. V. Koch), and the Albion (B. Keesing) 
Harm s (H.) and Excellent houses. On Clay st H. Bush kept the house 
which took his name. On Sacramento st was Bailey & Smith s Byron house, 
and California st contained the Murray ( Jas Hair), Duxbury (A. Marshall), 
and Elephant (A. G. Oakes) houses. Richelieu hotel was on Pine st, and 
over in the Happy and Pleasant Valley region the Isthmus hotel proffered 
hospitality. At or near the mission were wayside resorts, such as the Grizzly, 
near Potter st, and the Mansion house of Bob. Ridley and C. V. Stuart. On 
Sacramento st were Raphael s restaurant and that of Marye. On Kearny 
st bet. Clay and Sacramento were Mme Rosalie s restaurant, and Swan and 
Thompson s New York bakery. Wm Meyer kept a coffee-house on Jackson 
st at the water-front, and Nash, Patten, and Thayer s Kremlin restaurant and 
saloon stood on Commercial st. Besides four Chinese restaurants, on Pacific, 
Jackson, and Washington st near the water-front, charging $1 for a dinner, 
Cassins Slat., MS., 14, there were American restaurants at the same price, as 
Smyth Clark s. Barlett s Stat. , MS., 8. One on Broadway was in full blast 
while its ruins were still smoking after the first great fire. Garniss Early 
Days, MS., 19. There were the U. S. and California houses on the plaza, 
besides a French restaurant, whose counterpart existed also on Dupont st, not 
far from a large German establishment on Pacific st. Then there were the 
classical Gothic hall and Alhambra, Tortini s of Italian savor, the Empire, 
Elleard s on Clay st, by Tom Harper, Clayton s near by, and a number of 
others, some advertised in Alia Cal., May 27, 1850, etc., and Pac. News. Wood 
ward of the later noted What Cheer house kept a coffee shop near the post- 
office on Pike toward Sacramento st. S. F. Bull., Jan. 23, 1867. Many of the 
hotels mentioned above combined restaurants and lunching-places in con 
nection with drinking-saloons and other establishments. 

26 This was the meal at City hotel, says Crosby, Events, MS., 14. Some 
times sea-biscuits and dumplings would be added. Some of the boarders 
kept a private bottle of pickles, or bought a potato for 25 cents. The bill of 
fare at Ward s or Delmonico s read: Oxtail or St Julien soup, 75c. to $1; 


dozen or fifty bunks in a lodging-room at from six to 
twenty dollars a week; for a room even at the ordinary 
hotel cost from $25 to $100 a week, while at Ward s 
it rose to $250. 27 Offices and stores were leased for 
sums ranging as high as six thousand dollars a month, 
and a building like the Parker House, on the plaza, 
brought in subrenting large profits upon the $15,000 
monthly lease. 

It was the period of fancy prices, and houses and 
lots shared in the rule. When the gold-seekers who 
rushed away from San Francisco in 1848 returned in 
the autumn and found that their abandoned lots had, 
under the reviving faith in the city, earned for many 
of them more than they obtained from the Sierra with 
its boasted treasures, then speculation took a fresh 
start. When, with the ensuing year, immigrants 
poured in; when ships crowded the harbor; when 
tents and sheds multiplied by the thousand, and houses 

salmon or fish in small variety, $1.50; entrees, of stews, sausage, meats, etc., 
$1 to $1.50; roast meats ranged from beef, the cheapest, at $1, to veui- 
sion at $1.50; vegetables, limited in range and supply, were 50c. ; pies, pud 
dings, and fruit, 75c.; omelettes, $2. The wine list was less exorbitant, 
owing to large importations, for although ale, porter, and cider were 
quoted at $2, claret, sherry, and Madeira stood at $2, $3, and $4 respect 
ively, while champagne and old port could be had in pint bottles at $2.50 
and $1.75; whiskey and brandy were very low, likewise raisins, cigars, 
etc. For prices, see Sc/tenck s Vi</., MS., 20; Pac. News, Dec. 4, 1849; Jan. 
12, 1850; Taylor s Eldorado, i. 116; S. J. Pioneer, Aug. 1G, 1879; Taylors 
Spec. Press, 500-3. Toward winter the price for board rose from $20 to $35 
a week. A moderate charge for board and lodging was $150 a month. Food 
was abundant and cheap enough at the sources of supply; the cost lay princi 
pally in getting it to market. The great ranchos supplied unlimited quanti 
ties of good beef; bays, rivers, and woods were alive with game; the finest 
of fish, wild fowl, bear-meat, elk, antelope, and venison could be had for the 
taking; but vegetables, fruit, and flour were then not so plentiful, and had to 
be brought from a greater distance. 

27 Schenck, Vig., MS., 20, paid $21 a week for a bunk on the enclosed porch 
of an adobe house on Dupont st. For room rents, see Gamins Slut., MS., 11; 
Olney s V uj,, MS., 3; Slier mans Mem., i. 67; Larkins Doc., vi. 41, etc. The 
ground-rent for a house ranged from $100 to $500 a month. Buff urns Six 
Months, 121. A cellar 12 ft square could be had for a law-office at $250 a 
month. For an office on Washington above Montgomery st $1,000 was asked. 
Browns Slat., MS., 11. For desk-room of five feet at the end of a counter, 
$100 a month. Buttons Stat., MS., 3. For their Miners Bank on the N. w. 
corner Kearny and Washington sts, Wright Co. paid $6,000 monthly. A 
stor. 20 feet in front rented for $3,500 a month. Yet the U. S. hotel rental 
was said to be only $3,000. In the tent structure adjoining, the Eldorado, sin 
gle rooms for gambling brought $180 a day; mere tables in hotels for gam 
bling $30 a day. 


shot up like mushrooms speculation became wild. 
Lots, which a year before could not be sold at any 
price, because the town had been left without either 
sellers or buyers, now found ready purchasers at from 
ten to a thousand times their cost. 28 

More than one instance is recorded of property sell 
ing at $40,000 or more, which two years before cost 
fifteen or sixteen dollars, and of the sudden enrichment 
of individual owners and speculators. Well known is 
the story of Hicks, the old sailor. The gold excite 
ment recalled to his memory the unwilling purchase in 
Yerba Buena of a lot, which on coming back in 1849 
he found worth a fortune. His son sold half of it 
some years later for nearly a quarter of a million. 29 
Vice-consul Leidesdorif died in 1848, leaving property 
then regarded as inadequate to pay his liabilities 
of over $40,000. A year later its value had so ad 
vanced so as to give to the heirs an amount larger 
than the debt, while agents managed to make fortunes 
by administering on the estate. 30 

28 For prices in 1846-8, see my preceding volume, v., and note 4 of this 
chapter. With preparation for departure to the mines, in the spring of 1849, 
a lull set in, Larkins Doc., vii. 92; Hartley s Observ., MS., 5; but immediately 
after Began the great influx of ships, and prices advanced once more, till 
toward the end of the year, when gold-laden diggers came back, they reached 
unprecedented figures. A lot on the plaza, which in 1847 had cost $16.50, 
sold in beginning of 1849 for $6,000, and at the end of the year for $45,000. 
Henskaw s Events, MS., 7. Buffum, Six Mo., 121-2, instances this or a similar 
sale as ranging from $15 to $40,000. Johnson, Gal. and Or., 101, gives the 
oft-told story of a lot selling for $18,000, which two years before was bar 
tered for a barrel of whiskey. A central lot which B. Semple is said to have 
given away to show his confidence in Benicia s prospects, now commanded a 
little fortune, Williams, Rec., MS., 6-7, quotes central lots long before the 
close of 1849 at from $10,000 to $15,000, those on the plaza at $15,000 and 
$20,000; yet the most substantial business was done east of Kearny st, ob 
serves Currey, Stilt., MS., 8. A 50-vara lot on the corner of Montgomery 
and Market sts sold for $500. Findlas Stat., MS., 8. The government paid 
$1,000 a foot for 120 feet on the plaza. 8. F. Herald, June 25, 1850. At the 
end of this year the demand fell off. Larkins Doc., vii. 231, yet the rise con 
tinued till the climax for the time was reached in 1853, says Williams, the 
Ixiilder. Ul>i sup. At the close of this year the authorities sold water lots of 
only 25 feet by 59, part under water, at from $8,000 to $16,000, four small 
blocks alone producing $1,200,000, and tending to restore the impaired credit 
of the city. Annals S. F., 182. In Cal. Digger s Hand-book, 36, are some 
curious figures for lots from the presidio to San Pablo. For reliable points, 
see Alta Cal, Dec. 15, 1849, etc.; and Pac. News; also Rednitz, Reise, 106; 
Lambertie, Voy., 203-9. 

29 Details in 8. F Real Estate Circular, Sac. Bee, June 12, 1874; Hayes 
Scraps, Cal Notes, v. 16, etc. 

3s The state laid claim to it, but yielded after long litigation. Leidesdorff 


The demand was confined chiefly to Kearny street 
round the plaza, and eastward to the cove, including 
water lots. Outside land shared only moderately in 
the rise, fifty-vara lots, the usual size, near the corner 
of Montgomery and Market streets, selling for $500. 
Property toward North Beach was regarded with 
greater favor. 81 Periodic auction sales gave a stimu 
lus to operations, 82 and lotteries were added to sustain 
it, chiefly by men who had managed to secure large 
blocks on speculation. 33 Dealings were not without 
risk, for several clouds overhung the titles, water lots 
being involved in the tide-land question, soon satisfac 
torily settled by act of legislature, and nearly all the 
rest in the claim to pueblo lands, which led to long 
and harassing litigation, with contradictory judg 
ments, disputed surveys, and congressional debates; 

was buried at Mission Dolores with imposing ceremonies befitting his promi 
nence and social virtues. Warm of heart, clear of head, social, hospitable,, 
liberal to a fault, his hand ever open to the poor and unfortunate, active and 
enterprising in business, and with a character of high integrity, his name 
stands as among the purest and best of that sparkling little community to 
which his death proved a serious loss. It is necessary for the living to take 
charge of the effects of the dead, but it smells strongly of the cormorant, the 
avidity with which men seek to administer an estate for the profit to be de 
rived from it. We have many notable examples of this kind in the history 
of California, in which men of prominence have participated, sometimes in the 
name of friendship, but usually actuated thereto by avarice. The body of 
William A. Leidesdorff was scarcely cold before Joseph L. Folsom obtained 
from Gov. Mason an order to take charge of the estate in connection with 
Charles Myres. The indecent haste of Folsom was checked by the appoint 
ment as administrator of W. D. M. Howard by John Townsend, 1st alcalde 
of San Francisco. And when Folsom died there were others just as eager as 
he had been to finger dead men s wealth. 

31 Beyond Montgomery and Market, 100-vara lots were offered for $500, 
and with some purchasers the scrub oak firewood on them was the main in 

32 See advertisements in Alta CaL, Dec. 15, 1849, and other dates; and 
Pac. News, Jan. 5, 1850, etc. Large weekly sales took place. The last of 
600 lots yielded $225,000, says S. F. Herald, Aug. 10, 1850; S. F. Picayune, 
Dec. 4, 1850; Olney s Viij., MS., 2. Among the auctioneers whose sale cata 
logues are before me figure Gr. E. Tyler in 1849, and Cannon & Co. and Ken?- 
dig, Wain wright, & Co. in 1850. In the 1849 catalogues 50-vara lots pre 
vail as far S. w. as Turk and Taylor sts, and 100-vara sizes south of Market 
st, while in 1850 lots of 20 feet frontage are the most common even in the 
latter region. For raffling of lots, see CaL Courier, Oct. 5, 1850; Pac. News, 
Oct. 19, 1850. 

33 A large portion of the city land was held by a few and squatters would 
scuttle old hulks upon desirable water lots to secure possession, as. did alcalde 
Leavenworth. Merrill s Stat., MS., 2-4. 
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 13 


in addition to which rose several spectres in the form 
of private land grants. 34 

By the middle of 1849 the greater part of the lots 
laid out by O Farrell 35 had been disposed of, and W. 
M. Eddy was accordingly instructed to extend the 
survey to Larkin and Eighth streets, 30 within which 
limits sales were continued. Encouraged by the de 
mand, John Townsend and C. de Boom hastened to 
lay out a suburban town on the Potrero Nuevo penin 
sula, two miles south, beyond Mission Bay, which 
with its sloping ground, good water, arid secure anchor 
age held forth many attractions to purchasers; but 
the distance and difficulty of access long proved a bar 
to settlement. 37 

The eagerness to invest in lots was for some time 
not founded on any wide-spread confidence in the coun 
try and the future of the city. Few then thought of 
making California their home, or, indeed, of remaining 
longer than to gather gold enough for a stake in 
life. Viewed by the average eye, the abnormities of 
1849 displayed no meaning. Absorbed in the one 
great pursuit, which confined them to comparatively 
arid gold belts and to marshy or sand-blown town 
sites, they missed the real beauties of the country, 
failed to observe its best resources, and became im 
pressed rather by the worst features connected with 
their roamings and hardships. The climate was bear 
able, summer s consuming heat being chased away 
by winter s devouring waters. The soil would not 
furnish food for the people, it was said. The mines 

34 By Larkin, Santillan, Sherrebeck, Limantour, and others, which, how 
ever, did not appear at this early date, when the tide-water question excited 
the only real fear. Land titles are fully considered in a special chapter. By 
order of the governor, Feb. 19, 1850, the sale of municipal lands was fordii- 
deiitill the legislature should decide. S. F., Minutes Leyisl. Assembly, 14, 229. 

* See preceding vol. v. 

36 See A. Wheelers Report of 1850, and his Land Titles in S. F. of 1852, 
for observations on survey and lists of sales and grants made up to 1850; also 
Pac. New*, Nov. 27, 1849; A Ita, etc. 

37 It was surveyed by A. R. Flint. Hunter Bros were the agents in S. F. 
Or. Sketches, MS., 2; Buffums Six Months, 156. 


would not yield treasures forever; then what should 
pay for the clothing and provisions shipped hither 
from distant ports, which had to furnish almost every 
thing needful for sustaining life, even bread? Surely 
not the hides, horns, and tallow secured from the 
rapidly disappearing herds. 

There was, consequently, little inducement to pre 
pare anything but the flimsiest accommodation for 
the inflowing population and increasing trade, Then 
there was an excitement and hurry everywhere preva 
lent, and the cost of material and labor was excessive. 
Every day saw a marked change in the city s expansion; 
and as winter approached and rain set in, the central 
part underwent a rapid transformation, under the effort 
to replace canvas frames with somewhat firmer wooden 
walls. It is assumed that at least a thousand sheds 
and houses were erected in the latter half of 1849, 3 * 
at a cost that would have provided accommodation 
for a fivefold larger community on the Atlantic coast. 

Stretching its youthful limbs in the gusty air, San 
Francisco grew apace, covering the drift sand which 
was soon to be tied down by civilization, carving the 
slopes into home sites for climbing habitations till they 
reached the crests, levelling the hills by blasting out 
ballast for returning vessels, or material for filling in 
behind the rapidly advancing piling in the cove. 

The topography of the city, with sharply rising 

38 Buff urn s Six Months, 121. Taylor estimates the habitations in Aug., 
including tents, at 500, with a population of 6,000, and that the town increases 
daily by from fifteen to thirty houses; its skirts rapidly approaching the sum 
mits of the hills. Eldorado, i. 59, 203. His houses must be understood as 
embracing at least canvas structures. The streets were encroaching on 
Happy Valley, and the harbor was lined with boats, tents, and warehouses 
to Rincon Point. As many as 40 buildings have risen within 48 hours, 
* Framed houses were often put up and enclosed in 24 hours. McCotturis Cal., 
60. Muslin was used instead of plaster. Adven. of Capt. Wife, 27-8. A 
most valuable account of the building of the city in 1849 and subsequent 
years is given in the Statement, MS., 4 et seq., of H. F. Williams, who opened 
a carpenter-shop in 1849 on the east side of Montgomery st, between Jackson 
and Washington, and figured long as builder and contractor. He paid $12 a 
day in Nov. to any one who could handle a saw and hammer. Buildings now 
costing $2,500 were then contracted for at $21,000. Details are also given in 
Buttons Early Exper., MS.; Bauer s Stat., MS., 5; Larkiris Doc., vi. 51, etc.; 
Sandoich Is. News, ii. 193, etc.; 8. F. Picayune, Sept. 11, 1850; Cal Courier, 
5-ec U, 1850; S. F. Herald, June 20, 1850, etc. 


hills so close upon the established centre of popula 
tion, interposed a barrier against business structures, 
while the shallow waters of the bay invited to the 
projection of wharves, which again led to the erection 
of buildings alongside and between them. In levelling 
for interior streets the bay offered the best dumping- 
place, and the test once satisfactorily made, sand 
ridges scores of feet in height came tumbling down 
into the cove under the combined onslaught of steam - 
excavators, railroads, and pile-drivers. In 1849 Mont 
gomery street skirted the water; a little more than a 
year later it ran through the heart of the town. 8D 

The only real encroachment upon the water domain 
in 1848 was in the construction of two short wharves, 
at Clay and Broadway streets. 40 In May 1849 
Alcalde Leavenworth projected Central or Long 
Wharf, along Commercial street, which before the 
end of the year extended 800 feet, and became noted 
as the noisy resort of pedlers and Cheap John shops. 
Steamers and sea-going vessels began to unload at it, 
and buildings sprang up rapidly along the new avenue. 
Its successful progress started a number of rival enter 
prises upon every street along the front, from Market 
and California streets tq Broadway and beyond. 41 

39 Within another year one half of the city will stand on soil wrested from 
the sea, exclaim the S. F. Courier and Sac. Transcript, Oct. 14, 1850. Thus 
were overcome difficulties not unlike those encountered in placing St Peters 
burg upon her delta, Amsterdam upon her marshes, and Venice upon her 
island cluster. During the winter 1850-1 over 1,000 people dwelt upon the 
water in buildings resting on piles, and in hulks of vessels. 

40 This wet-nursing began in 1847 by city appropriation, assisted by W. S. 
Clark. See my preceding vol., v. 655-6, 679. Many pioneers think that 
because a favorite landing-place was upon some rocks, at Pacific and Sansoma 
sts, there were no wharves. The lagoon at Jackson st, which had been partly 
filled, offered an inlet for boats. There were also other landings. Crosby s 
Stat., MS., 12; Schenetts Vig., MS., 14; Miscel Stats.^lS., 21; and note 5 of 
this chapter. 

41 Central wharf, owned by a joint-stock company, of which the most 
prominent members were Mellus & Howard, Cross, Hobson, & Co., Jas C. 
Ward, J. L. Folsom, De Witt& Harrison, SamBrannan, Theo. Shillaber, etc., 
began at Leidesdorff st, and was originally 800 ft long. Being seriously dam 
aged by the fire of June 1850, it was repaired, and by Oct. extended to a 
length of 2,000 ft, affording depth of water sufficient to allow the Pacific Mail 
steamers to lie alongside. The cost was over $180,000. Details in Sckenck s 
Vij., MS., 14; Fays Facts, MS., 2; S. F. Bull., Jan. 23, 1867. C. V. Gilles- 

?ie wasprest. Alta, Dec. 12, 1849. Before the beginning of the winter of 
850-1, Market-st wh. corporation property, already looming as a wholesale 


They added nearly two miles to the roadway of the 
city, at an outlay of more than a million dollars, which, 
however, yielded a large return to the projectors, 
mostly private firms. A few belonged to the munici 
pality, which soon absorbed the rest,, as the progress 
of filling in and building up alongside and between 
converted them into public streets, and caused the for 
mation of a new network of wharves. 

In the rush of speculation and extension, in which 
the energy and success of a few led the rest, the 
several sections of the city were left comparatively 
neglected, partly because so many thought it useless 
to waste improvements during a probably brief stay. 
Streets, for instance, remained unpaved, without side 
walks and even ungraded. The pueblo government 
had before the gold excitement done a little work 
upon portions of a few central thoroughfares, yet 
Montgomery street was still in a crude condition and 
higher on one side than on the other. 42 During the 
dry summer this mattered little, for dust and sand 
would in any case come whirling in clouds from the 
surrounding hills, but in winter the aspect changed. 
The season 1849-50 proved unusually watery. 43 Build- 
centre, Cal. Courier, Aug. 7, 1850, extended 600 ft into the cove; Calif ornia- 
st wh., substantially built, was 400 ft long by 32 ft wide; Howison s pier, 
connected by a railway with Sacramento st, was 1,100 ft long, with a width 
of 40 ft, and a depth of water of 14 ft at high tide. Barry aad Patten, Men 
and Mem., 17, confound this with Sacramento-st wh., owned by Stevenson & 
Parker, 800 ft long, extending from Sansome st to Davis. Clay-st wh. was 
being rapidly carried out over 1,000 ft, with a width of 40 ft, and started 
from a mole or staging at Sherman & Ruckle s store, says Grimshaw, Narr., 
MS., 14; Washington-st wh. was 275 ft long; Jackson-st wh., 552 ft, ended 
at Front st in 13 ft of water. The well-built Pacific-st wh. extended over 
500 ft (probably to be completed to 800 ft) by 60 ft in width; Broadway wh., 
250 ft long by 40 ft, was the landing-place of the Sacramento steamers. Bantes 
Or. and Cal., MS., 19; Henshaw s Stat., MS., 2. Cunningham s wh., between 
Vallejo and Green sts, was 375 ft by 33 ft, with a right-angle extension of 
330 ft by 30 ft, at a depth of 25 ft. The Green-st or Law s wh. was under 
construction, and at North Beach a 1,700-ft wharf from foot of Taylor st 
was projected. See, further, Annals 8. F., 291-3; Dams GUmpses, MS., 265- 
78; Bauer s Stat., MS., 2; Earl s Stat., MS., 1-10; Lawsons Autolnog., MS., 
16-17; Bartletf* Stat., MS., 2; Pac. News, May 2, Aug. 27, 1850; 8. F. Pica 
yune, Aug. 19, Nov. 11, 1850; S. F. Herald, Oct. 22, 1850. Howison s wh., 
valued at $200,000, was offered at lottery, tickets $100. Cal. Courier, Sept. 
26, 1850. 

4 * For work done in 1847-8, see my preceding vol., v. 654-5. 

43 The rains began on Nov. 13th and terminated in March, falling during 


ings were flooded, and traffic converted the streets into 
swamps, their virgin surface trodden into ruts and 
rivers of mud. In places they were impassable, and 
so deep that rnan and beast sank almost out of sight. 
Many animals were left to their fate to suffocate in 
the mire, and even human bodies were found ingulfed 
in Montgomery street. 44 

Driven by necessity, owners and shop-keepers sought 
to remedy the evil for the municipal fund was scanty 
by forming sidewalks and crossings with whatever 
material that could be obtained, but in a manner which 
frequently served to wall the liquid rnud into lakes. 
The common brush filling proved unstable traps in 
which to entangle the feet of horses. The cost of ma 
terial and labor did not encourage more perfect meas 
ures. It so happened that with the inflow of shipments 
many cargoes contained goods in excess of the demand, 
such as tobacco, iron, sheet-lead, cement, beans, salt 
beef, and the cost of storage being greater than their 
actual or prospective value, they could be turned to 
no better use than for fillage. Thus entire lines of 
sidewalks were constructed of expensive merchandise 
in bales and boxes, which frequently decayed, to the 
injury of health. 45 The absence of lamps rendered 

71 days, or half the time. S. F. Direct., 1852, 12. Lower lying buildings 
were flooded. Suttons Stat., MS., 7. 

44 Schmiedell, Stat., MS., 5-6, mentions one man who was suffocated in 
the mud. Another witness refers to three such cases, due probably to intoxi 
cation. See also HittelVs S. F., 154; S. F. Bull, Jan. 23, 1867. I have 
seen mules stumble in the street and drown in the liquid mud, writes Gen. 
Sherman, Mem., i. 67. At the corner of Clay and Kearny sts stood posted 
the warning: This street is impassable, not even jackassable! Uplvams 
Notes, 268. At some crossings soundings varied from two to five feet. 
Shaw s Golden Dreams, 47. 

45 A sidewalk was made from Montgomery st to the mail steamer office of 
boxes of 1st class Virginia tobacco, containing 100 Ibs. each, that would be 
worth 75 cts a pound. Cole s Vig., MS., 3. Tons of wire sieves, iron, rolls of 
sheet lead, cement, and barrels of beef were sunk in the mud. Tobacco was 
found to be the cheapest material for small building foundations. NealVs Vig., 
MS., 16; Fay s Facts, MS., 3. Foundations subsequently were sometimes 
worth more than the house. Some Chile beans sunk for a crossing on Broadway 
would have made a fortune for the owner a few weeks later. Garniss Early 
Days, MS., 14; Lambertie, Voy., MS., 202-3. There were a few planked 
sidewalks. Sutton s Stat., MS., 7; Cal Past and Present, 149-50; Bartlett s 
Stat., MS., 7; Sc/tenck s Vig., MS., 16. 


progress dangerous at night, 46 and the narrowness of 
the path led to many a precipitation into the mud, 
whence the irate victims would arise ready to fight the 
first thing he met. Long boots and water-proof suits 
were then common. 

The experiences of the winter led in 1850 to more 
substantial improvements. The municipal government 
adopted a system of grades, under which energetic 
work was done; so much so that before the following 
winter, which was excessively dry, the central parts of 
the town might be regarded as practically graded and 
planked, a portion being provided with sewers. 47 With 
the rapid construction of saw-mills on the coast, sup 
plemented by the large importation of lumber from 
Oregon, this article became so abundant and cheap as 
to restrict to small proportions the use of stone ma 
terial for streets. 

In the adoption of grades the local government had 
been hasty ; for three years later a new system had to 
be adopted, partly to conform to the gradual exten 
sion of the city into the bay. This involved the 

46 Pac. News, of May 9, 1850, complains that Kearny st is left to darkness. 
Lights were not introduced till the spring of 1851. S. F. Directory, 1852, 18. 

47 Montgomery, Kearny, and Dupont sts, from Broadway to Sacramento, 
and even to California st, were so far to receive sewers. The grading and 
planking extended in 1852 from the junction of Battery and Market sts diag 
onally to Sacramento and Dupont sts, and from Dupont and Broadway to the 
bay, covering nearly all the intermediate district, except the land portion of 
Broadway and Pacific. See Barker s plan in S. F. Directory of 1852. The 
S. F. Annals, 29G, leaves a wrong impression of progress by the beginning of 
Nov. 1850, by stating that these improvements were now being executed 
within the section embraced between the diagonal line running from Market 
and Battery to Stockton and Clay sts on the south, and the line stretching 
from Dupont and Broadway straight to the bay, besides odd sections on the 
north-west to Taylor st, and northward about Ohio, Water, and Francisco sts. 
i^ee S. F. Herald, June 28, July 31, Oct. 29, 1S50; A Ita Gal, Dec. 21, 1850, 
and other numbers. La Motte, Stat., MS., 1-2, did some grading. Larkins 
Doc., vii. 219; Cal Courier, Sept. 3, 14, 21, 27, Dec. 2, 5, 1850; /S , F Picayune, 
Aug. 19, Sept. 6, 9, Oct. 10, 23, 1850. There was a bridge over the lagoon 
at Jackson and Kearny sts, observes Pac. News, Dec. 20, 1849, June 5, 1820, 
whose editor boasts that no city in the union presents a greater extent of 
planked streets. Over 40,000 feet, or above 7^ miles of streets have been 
graded; 19,800 feet have been planked; and more planking contracted for 
The city paid one third of the expense, levying for the remainder on the 
property facing the streets concerned. The 4rst sidewalk, of stringers and 
barrel-staves, was laid on the south side of Clay st between Montgomery and 
Kearny, says Williams, Stat., MS., 4-5. King of William laid the first 
brick sidewalk. Cal Courier, July 23, 1850. 


lifting of entire blocks of heavy brick houses in the 
business centre, and elsewhere to elaborate cutting and 
filling with substructure and inconvenient approaches. 
The expense of the work was absolutely appalling; the 
more so as much of it had been needless, and the re 
sult on the whole miserably inadequate and disfigur 
ing. 48 

In San Francisco was much bad planning. 49 Yioget s 
pencillings were without much regard for configura 
tion, or for the pathways outlined by nature and early 
trafficking toward the presidio and mission. O Far- 
rell s later extension was no better. 50 Both rejected 
the old-fashioned adaptation to locality, with terraced 
slopes suited to the site. Terraces and winding as 
cents would have rendered available and fashionable 
many of the slopes which for lack of such approaches 
were abandoned to rookeries or left tenantless. More 
over, while selecting and holding obstinately to the 
bare rigidity of right angles they distorted the plan 
from the beginning. The two proposed main streets, 
instead of being made greater avenues for traffic and 
dominant factors in the extension of the city by stretch 
ing them between Telegraph and Russian hills to the 

48 The new grade, prepared by M. Hoadley and W. P. Humphreys, was 
adopted on Aug. 26, 1850, and although afterward modified, involved heavy 
cost by raising former levels as much as five feet, especially on business streets 
where brick buildings had been erected. Here in lower lying parts changes 
were imperative. Nearly 1,000 brick buildings have been raised, some of large 
extent. On hill sites greater latitude was allowed. The requirement of the 
plan for vertical cuts of 200 feet into Telegraph hill at the intersection of 
Montgomery and Kearny with Greenwich and Filbert, and of corresponding 
depths elsewhere, could not be entertained, for the cost would have been in 
some cases 50 times more than the value of the lots. Elsewhere cuttings of 
over 50 feet were frequently adopted, although not always enforced. The 
demand for ballast and filling material tended to obviate the main difficulty 
the expense as in the case of Telegraph hill. With aid of the steam-exca 
vator, or paddy, as this supplanter of Irish labor has been dubbed, which 
could swing round with a hogshead of sand at every scoop, a truck car could 
be filled in a few minutes from most of the hills. It has been estimated that 
an average of nine feet of cutting and filling has been done upon 3,000 acres 
of the San Francisco site, implying the transfer of nearly 22,000,000 cubic 
yards of sand. 

49 The plea that a large city was not thought of in 1839 is valid only to a 
certain extent. 

50 The conformation to the change made was largely undertaken during 
the winter 1849-50. Williams Stat., MS., 3. For surveys and defects, see my 
preceding vol. v. 


then promising expanse of North Beach, and so form 
ing a rectangle to the southern main, Market street, 
they were circumscribed, and allowed to terminate 
aimlessly in the impassable Telegraph hill. This pri 
mary error, whose remedy was too late attempted in the 
costly opening of Montgomery avenue, had a marked 
effect on the city in distributing its business and so 
cial centres, in encroaching upon the rights and com 
forts of property owners, and in the lavish squandering 
of millions. Then, again, the streets were made too 
narrow, resulting in the decadence of many otherwise 
advantageous quarters, while some were altered 
only at an immense outlay for widening. Add to this 
such abnormities as alternating huge ditches and em 
bankments with lines of houses left perched at vary 
ing altitudes upon the brow of cliffs, sustained by 
unsightly props, and accessible only by dizzy stair 
ways. True, the extension into the bay in a measure 
required the levelling of hills, and so reduced the ab 
surdity; on the other hand, this advance into the 
waters rendered worse a defective drainage system, 
so much so that, notwithstanding the change of levels, 
the health and convenience of the city would be seri 
ously endangered but for the ruling west winds. This 
remedy, however, is nearly as bad as the disease, in 
the way of comfort at least. 1 


The errors and mishaps connected with San Fran 
cisco are greatly due to haste and overdoing. One 
half of the activity would have accomplished twice the 
result. Fortunes were spent in building hastily and 
inefficiently; seas were scoured for bargains when 
there were better ones at home; the Sierra was 

51 Several writers have commented on different features of the plan, which 
Player Frowd, Six Mont/is, 23, terms a monument of the folly . . to improve 
natural scenery. Hubner, Jtamble, 145-7, and Upton, in Overland Mo., ii. 
131, join with others in condemning the disregard for natural features. In 
the Annals S. F., 160-1, was placed a protest against the monotony of the 
square, and the lack of public parks and gardens. The inequality of streets 
was the more striking when it is seen that the central streets, from east to west, 
were only 60 feet wide, while those south of Market, a comparative suburb, 
were over 80 feet, with variations in other quarters. 


beaten for gold which flowed of its own accord to the 
door of the steady trader ; a pittance set aside for land 
would have made rich the defeated wrestler with for 
tune. Anything, however, but to quietly wait; wealth 
must be obtained, and now, and that by rushing 
hither and thither in search of it, by scheming, strug 
gling, and if needs be dying for it. 

One bitter fruit of the improvident haste of the 
city-builders was early forthcoming in a series of dis 
astrous conflagrations, which stamped San Francisco 
as one of the most combustible of cities, the houses 
being as inflammable as the temper of the inhabi 
tants. 52 

52 The first of the series took place early on Christmas eve, 1849, after one 
of those nights of revelry characterizing the flush days. It started in Deni- 
son s Exchange, in the midst of the gambling district, on the east side of the 
plaza, next to the Parker house, the flames being observed about 6 A. M., Dec. 
24th. Premonitory warnings had been given in the burning of the Shades 
hotel in Jan. 1849, and the ship Philadelphia in June, as she was about to 
sail. S. F. Directory, 1852, 10. Although the weather was calm, the flames 
spread to the rear and sides among the tinder walls that filled the block, till 
the greater part of it presented a mass of flame. So scorching was the heat 
that houses on the opposite side of the street, and even beyond, threatened to 
ignite. Fortunately the idea occurred to cover them with blankets, which 
were kept freely saturated. One merchant paid one dollar a bucket for water 
to this end; others bespattered their walls with mud. Conspicuous among 
the fire fighters was David Broderick, a New York fireman now rising to 
political prominence. Buckets and blankets might have availed little, how 
ever, but for the prompt order to pull down and blow up a line of houses, and 
so cut off food for the flames. The greater part of the block between Wash 
ington and Clay streets and Kearny and Montgomery streets was destroyed, 
involving the loss of a million and a quarter of dollars. Stanley s Speech, 1854. 
Nearly 50 houses fell, all save a fringe on Clay and Montgomery sts, then 
perhaps the most important block in town. Bayard Taylor, who witnessed 
the fire, gives a detailed account in Eldorado, ii. 71-4. Upham, Notes, 26G, 
and Neall, Vig., MS., 14-15, add some incidents; and Pac. News, Dec. 25-29, 
1849, Jan. 1, 1850, supplies among the journals some graphic versions. The 
Eldorado, Parker house, Denison s Exchange, U. S. coffee house, were among 
the noted resorts swept away. Polynesian, vi. 142; Hunt s Mag., xxxi. 114. 
While the fire was still smouldering, its victims could be seen busily planning 
for new buildings. Within a few days many of the destroyed resorts had 
been replaced with structures better than their predecessors. Toward the 
end of Jan. 1850, not a vestige remained of the fire. Cornwall contracted to 
raise the Exchange within 15 days, or forfeit $500 for every day in excess of 
the term. He succeeded. Williams" Pec., MS., 13. 

The second great fire broke out on May 4, 1850, close to the former 
starting point, and swept away within seven hours the three blocks between 
Montgomery and Dupont sts, bounded by Jackson and Clay sts and the north 
and east sides of Portsmouth square, consuming 300 houses and other prop 
erty, to the value of over four millions. Stanley, Speech, 1854, says $4,250,000; 
others have $3,000,000 to $4,000,000; Pac. News, May 4, 15, 1850, $5,000,000. 
One life was lost. Larkins Doc., vii. 208. Dubois bank and Burgoyne & Co. s 


Such a succession of disasters might well have 
crushed any community, and croakers were not want- 
house alone escaped in the Clay-st block; and northward only a row fringing 
Jackson above Montgomery st. S. F. Directory, 1852, 15. The flames were 
stayed, especially on Dupont st, by the voluntary tearing down of many build 
ings. S. F. Annals, 274, with diagram. Details in Pac. News, May 4-9, 1850; 
Atta Cal, May 27, June 6, 1850. The conduct of certain criminals confirmed 
the belief in incendiarism, arid a reward of 5,000 led to several arrests, but 
nothing could be proved. The fire started at 4 A. M., on May 4th, in the U. 
S. Exchange, a rickety gambling-place. In S. F. Herald, June 15, 1850, it is 
stated that 200 houses were burned, with a loss of three millions. As on 
the previous occasion, thousands of curious spectators gathered to the sound 
of the fire bells to add their clamor to the uproar. Appeals to the crowd for 
aid met with no hearty response, unless attended by money, a3 Taylor, Eldo 
rado, 75, observed in Dec. 1849. A number were engaged at $3 an hour; $60 
was paid for a cartload of water. Shaw s Golden Dreams, 179. A crowd of 
men who claimed to have assisted at the fire raised almost a riot on being re 
fused compensation by the city council. This august body was profoundly 
moved, and ordinances were passed obliging all, under penalty, to render ai.l 
on such occasions when called upon. Precautionary measures were also 
adopted, and impulse was given to the development of the fire department 
started after the first calamity such as digging wells, forming reservoirs, 
ordering every householder to keep six buckets of water prepared for emer 
gencies, and the like. Annals S. F., 276. It is claimed that in ten days more 
than half the burned district was rebuilt. 

While the rebuilding of the burned district was still in progress, on June 
14th, the alarm sounded once more near the old point of ignition, from the 
Sacramento house on the east side of Kearny st, between Clay and Sacra 
mento. Cause, a defective stove-pipe, S. F. Directory, 1852, 16; in the 
kitchen, adds another, which the Annals S. F., 277, ascribes to a baker s 
chimney in the rear of the Merchants hotel. The fire started just before 
8 A. M. Within a few hours the district between Clay and California sts, 
from Kearny st to the water-front, lay almost entirely in ashes, causing a 
loss of over three million dollars. Stanley, as above, has $3,500,000; the 
Annals nearly $5,000,000; the Directory $3,000,000, embracing 300 houses. 
Jas King of William s bank was torn down; many ships were in danger. Cal. 
Courier, July 16, 1850, etc. This fire led to the erection of more substantial 
buildings of brick, and some stone. 

The fourth great conflagration, on September 17, 1850, started on Jack 
son street, and ravaged the greater part of the blocks between Dupont and 
Montgomery sts embraced by Washington and Pacific sts. The section was 
about equal to the preceding, but covered mostly by one-story wooden 
houses, so that the loss did not exceed half a million dollars the Annals says 
between one quarter and one half million; yet Stanley has one million; 150 
houses, and nearly half a million, according to S. F. Directory, 1852, 17 
Details in S. F. Picayune, S. F. Herald, and Cal. Courier, of Sept 18, 1850, 
etc. In estimating values it must be considered that after 1849 material, 
labor, and method became cheaper and more effective year by year, so that 
the cost of replacing differed greatly from the original outlay. A scanty 
water supply and the lack of a directing head hampered the praiseworthy 
efforts of the fire companies. The fire began at 4 A. M. in the Philadelphia 
house, on the north side of Jackson st, between Dupont and Kearny, near 
Washington market. On October 31st a blaze on Clay-st hill consumed the 
City hospital, owned by Dr Peter Smith, and an adjoining building, where 
the fire began; loss, a quarter of a million; supposed incendiarism. It was 
marked by severe injury to several of the hospital inmates, before they could 
be rescued. Cal. Courier, Oct. 31, 1850. Less extensive but twice as costly 
was the blaze of Dec. 14th, on Sacramento street, which consumed several 



The jagged line below Montgomery st indicates the extent of filled ground 
beyond the natural shore line. The larger portions even of the central blocks were 
covered by wooden buildings. The following list, referred to the plan by num 
bers, embraces nearly all the notable exceptions, occupied by a larr^e proportion of 
the leading business firms. The fire consumed also most of the streets beyond the 
water line, which, being really wharves on piling, burned readily. 
1. City Hotel, brick building 30. Bereuhardt, Jacoby, & Co., Hellman 

& Bros, wooden b. 

31. Pioche Bayerque, brick and iron, 

several iron b. in rear. 

32. Bonded warehouse, iron. 

33 Starkey, Janion, & Co., b k and iron. 

34. I. Naylor, Cooke Bros, brick. 

35. Helman & Bro., brick. 

36. Starr & Minturn, and others, 2 iron 

and 2 brick b. 

37 Hastier, Baines, & Co., brick. 

iv>. UIUUVACIIU. wiiiv,^, i/ii^j. 38. Jones Hotel, wooden. 

11. Johnson & Calfield, wooden b., ad- 39, P M. Steam Navig. Co., brick. 



Fitzgerald, Bausch, Brewster, brick 

Capt. Folspm, iron building, adjoin 

ing brick b. burned. 
Custom-house, brick b. 
Rising & Casili, brick and iron. 
Cramer, Rambach, & Co., brick, 
R. Wells & Co. banker brick 
Treadwell & Co . brick. 
J. Hahn & Co. brick. 
Standard office, brick 


joining brick b burned 

Moffatt s Laboratory brick. 

Quartermaster s office, brick. 

Gildermeister De Fremery, & 

U S. Assayer s office. Dodge s Ex 
press, F Argenti banker, brick 

B Davidson, banker brick. 

Wells & Co , bankers, brick. 

California Exchange, brick. 

Union Hotel brick 

El Dorado gambling-place, brick. 

Tallaut & Wilde bankers, Page, Ba 
con, & Co bankers, brick. 

Gregory s Express, brick. 

Delmonico s, brick, and three adjoin 
ing brick b burned 

Burgoyne & Co. bankers, brick. 

The Verandah resort, brick. 

Ev Picayune, journal, brick. 

40. W Gibb brick. 

41. Godeffroy, Sillem, & Co., brick. 
42 Bonded warehouse, iron. 

43. Herald office, brick. 

44. Courier office, brick. 

45 Niantic, store ship. 

46 Baldwin s Bank, iron. 

47 J B. Bidleman, brick. 
48. Cronise & Bertelot, iron. 

4J Larco & Co., brick, iron adjoining. 

50 Huerlin & Belcher, brick. 

51. Balance office, brick. 

52. Dewitt & Harrison, brick. 

53 Macondray & Co., brick, iron, and 


54. Appraiser s office, iron. 

55 Dunker and others, iron. 

56 Apollo, store ship. 

57 Gen. Harrison, store ship. 
58. Georgean, store ship 

59 Cross & Co. iron. 

60 Bonded stores, iron. 

Besides the above, a score and more of brick and iron buildings were destroyed. 


ing to predict the doom of the city. Street preachers 
proclaimed the visitation to be a divine vengeance upon 

iron buildings with valuable merchandise. It was below Montgomery st; 
losa about one million This shook the faith in corrugated iron walls. De 
tails in Pac. Neivs, and S. F. Picayune , of Dec. 15-16, 1850 

Then followed an interval of fortunate exemption, and then with accumu 
lated fury on the anniversary of the preceding largest conflagration, the cul 
minating disaster burst upon the city Started undoubtedly uy incendiaries, 
the tire broke out late on May 3, 1851, on the south side of the plaza, in the 
Upholstery and paint establishment of Baker and Messerve, just above Bry 
ant s hotel, at HP M., say most accounts; but Schenck, Vij., MS., 45, has 
9:20; yet it is called the fire of May 4th, partly because most of the destruc 
tion was then consummated. One of the gang headed by Jack Edwards, was 
the cause of it, says Schenck. Aided by a strong north-west breeze, it leaped 
across Kearny Bt upon the oft-ravaged blocks, the flames chasing one another, 
first south-eastward, then, with the shifting wind, turning north and east. 
The spaces under the planking of the streets and sidewalks acted as funnels, 
which, sucking in the flames, carried them to sections seemingly secure, there 
to startle the unsuspecting occupants with a sudden outbreak all along the 
surface, Rising aloft, the whirling volumes seized upon either side, shrivel 
ling the frame houses, and crumbling with their intense heat the stout walh 
of supposed fire-proof structures, crushing all within and without. The iron 
shutters, ere falling to melt in the furnace, expanded within the heat, cutting 
off escape, and roasting alive some of the inmates. Six men who had occu 
pied the building of Taaffe and McCahill, at the corner of Sacramento and 
Montgomery, were lost; 12 others, fire fighters in Naglee s building, nar 
rowly escaped; 3 were crushed by one falling wall; and now many more were 
killed and injured no one can say. The fire companies worked well, but 
their tiny streams of Water were transformed into powerless vapor. More 
effectual than water was the pulling down and blowing up of buildings; but 
this proved effectual only in certain directions. Voluntary destruction went 
hand in hand with the inner devastation; the boom of explosion mingling 
with the cracking of timber, the crash of tumbling walls, and the dull de 
tonation from falling roofs. A momentary darkening, then a gush of scintil 
lating sparks, followed by fiery columns, which still rose, while the canopy 
of smoke sent their reflection for a hundred miles around, even to Monterey. 
It is related that the brilliant illumination in the moonless night attracted 
flocks of brant from the marshes, which, soaring to and fro above the flames, 
glistened like specks of burnished gold. Helpers LandofGolcl, 144. Finally, 
after ten hours the flames abated, weakened by lack of ready materials, 
and checked on one side by the waters of the bay, where the wharves, broken 
into big gaps, interposed a shielding chasm for the shipping. Of the great 
city nothing remained save sparsely settled outskirts. All the business dis 
trict between Pine and Pacific sts, from Kearny to Battery, on the water, 
presented a mass of ruins wherein only a few isofated houses still reared their 
blistered walls, besides small sections at each of its four corners. Westward 
and north-eastward additional inroads had been made, extending the devas 
tation altogether over 22 blocks, not counting sections formed by alleys, and 
of these the greater number Were utterly ravaged, as shown in the annexed 
plan. The number of destroyed houses has been variously estimated at from 
over 1,000 to nearly 2,000, involving a loss of nearly twelve million dollars, 
a sum larger than that for all the preceding great fires combined. Only 17 
of the attacked buildings were saved, while more than twice that number of 
so-called fire-proof edifices succumbed. Schenck, Vig., MS., 44-8, who had 
some painful experiences during the fire, places their number at 68, including 
the only two insured buildings, one, No. 41 on plan, a single story, with 22- 
inch brick walls, earth -covered, and having heavy iron shutters. The long 
application, for insurance on this building was granted at Harlem, unknown to 


the godless revellers and gamblers of this second 
Sodom; and rival towns declared a situation so ex 
posed to constant winds could never be secure or 
desirable But it is not easy to uproot a metropolis 
once started; and Californians were not the men to 
despair Many of them had been several times stricken, 
losing their every dollar ; but each time they rallied 
and renewed the fight. Reading a lesson in the 
blow, they resolved to take greater precautions, and 
while frail shelter 53 had temporarily to be erected, 
owing to the pressure of business and the demand for 
labor and material, it was soon replaced by substantial 
walls which should offer a check to future fires. If 
so many buildings supposed to be fire-proof had fallen, 
it was greatly owing to their being surrounded by 
combustible houses. This was remedied by the grad- 

tha owners, about the time of its destruction. The policy for the other house, 
No. 14 of plan, came at the same time. Insurance companies had not yet 
opened here. The Jenny Lind theatre fell. The principal houses as reported 
in A Ita CnL, the only unburned newspaper, were J. B. Bidleman, $200,000; E. 
Mickle & Co., $200,000; Dall, Austin, & Co., $150,000; Simoiisfield, Bach, & 
Co., $150,000; Starkey Brothers, $150,000; De Boom, Vigneaux, & Co., $147,- 
000; Oppenheimer, Hirsch, & Co., $130,000; Kelsey, Smith, & Risley, $125,- 
000; Moore, Tichenor, & Co., $120,000; Treadwell & Co., $85,000; Thomas 
Maguire, $80,000; Adelsdorfer & Neustadter, $80,000; Fredenburg & Moses, 
$75,000; John Cowell, $70,000; J. L. Folsom, $65,000; W. D. M. Howard, 
$30,000; Baron Terlow, $60,000; Beck & Palmer, $55,000; J. & C. Grant, 
$55,000; Cross, Hobson, & Co., $55,000; Haight & Wadsworth, $55,000; W. 
0. Bokee, $50,000; Lazard Freres, $50,000; Annan, Lord, & Co., $50,000; 
Herzog & Rhine, $50,000; Nichols, Pierce, & Co., $50,000; S. Martin & Co., 
$50,000. In Annals S. F., 331, it is estimated that from 1,500 to 2,000 
houses were ruined, extending over 18 entire squares, with portions of five 
or six more, or three fourths of a mile from north to south, and one third of 
a mile east to west; damage moderately estimated at $10,000,000 to $12,000,- 
000. S. F. Directory, 1852, 18-19, assumes the loss at from $7,000,000 to $12,- 
000,000; Stanley, Speech, 1854, gives the latter figure. Dewitt and Harri 
son saved their building, g of plan, by pouring out 83,000 gallons of vinegar. 
Schenck s Vig., MS., 48. Rescued effects were largely sent on board ships 
for storage; -shelter in the outskirts was costly. Garniss, Early Days, MS., 
19, paid $150 for the use of a tent for 10 days, and more was offered. Rob 
ber gangs carried off large quantities of goods, a portion to Goat Island, 
whence they were recovered, but effects to the value of $150,000 or $200,000 
are supposed to have been carried away on a bark which had lain off the 
island. A govt vessel made a fruitless pursuit. In LarTdns Doc., vii. 287-8, 
are other details. The store-ships Niantic, Gen. Harrison, and Apollo were 
wholly or partly destroyed. The offices of the Public, Balance, Picayune, 
Standard, and Courier were burned. 

^Larkin, Doc., vii. 287, writes on May 15th that 250 small houses were 
then rising, 75 already with tenants. Sansome st was much improved by 


nal exclusion of unsafe structures from within desig 
nated fire-limits, by the improvement of the fire 
department, and other precautions, all of which com 
bined to preserve the city from similar wide-spread 
disasters. One more did come, to form the sixth 
and last in the great fire series; but this occur 
ring in the following month, June 1851, was due 
partly to the flimsiness of the temporary buildings, 
and partly to the lack of time to establish preventive 
measures and weed out incendiary hordes. The rav 
aged district extended between Clay and Broadway 
streets, nearly to Sansome and Powell streets, cover 
ing ten entire blocks, and parts of six more, with about 
450 houses, including the city hall, and involving a 
loss of two and a half million dollars. 54 Thus purified 
by misfortune, and by the weeding out of rookeries 
and much filth, the city rose more beautiful than ever 
from its ashes. 55 Hereafter it was admirably guarded 
by a fire department which from a feeble beginning in 
1850 became one of the most efficient organizations 
of the kind in the world. 56 

* Stanley s Speech, 1854. Annals S. F., 344, says $3,000,000; S. F. Direc 
tory, 1852, 19, over $2,000,000. The fire started in a dwelling on the north 
side of Pacific street, below Powell, at about 11 A. M., on June 22d. The 
Jenny Lind theatre fell again, together with the city hospital, the old adobe 
City hotel, the Alta office, which had hitherto escaped, the presbyterian 
church, etc. The city hall, formerly the Graham house, was a four-story 
wooden building, on the N. w. corner of Kearny and Pacific sts; the chief 
records were saved. Dunbar s bank escaped though surrounded by fire. 
Say ward s Rem., MS., 30. Manager T. Maguire was burned out for the sixth 
time. Sjven lives were lost, three by fire, the rest by the mob and police, 
as robbers and incendiaries, yet one was an honest man assisting his friends 
to save property. The fire companies were thwarted by lack of water, and 
by the opposition of owners to the pulling down of their buildings. Alta Cal., 
Sept. 21, 1851, wails over the destruction of old landmarks. The progress 
of fire-proof buildings is shown in S. F. Directory of 1852, 16, which states 
that nearly all the west side of Montgomery street, between Sacramento and 
Washington, was lined by them. Their value was satisfactorily tested in 
Nov. 1852, when they restricted a dangerous fire on Merchant and Clay streets 
to 30 wooden buildings worth $100,000. For further details concerning the 
great fires of S. F., I refer to S. J. Pioneer, Feb. 16, 1878; FarwelVsMS., 4; An 
nals S. F., passim; S. F. Bull., Nov. 27, 1856; Cal. Courier, July 16, Sept. 18, 
1850; Williams Pion. Past., 44-8; Tiffany s Pocket Ex. Guide, 124-6; S. F. Call, 
May 14, 1871; 8. F. Alta, July 1, 1850; S. F. Pac. Neivs, May 4, Dec. 16, 
1850; Polynesian, vii. 6, 30. 

5;> As commemorated by the phoenix on its seal. 

55 Before the fire of Dec. 24, 1849, there ha.l been no serious occasion to 
drive the absorbed money -gatherera of the city to organized method for protec- 


The mining excitement, with the consequent exodus 
of people, served to abate but partially the factious 

tiou against fire, and only three merchants had thought of introducing fire- 
engines, which were, indeed, of little value in an emergency. Starkey, Janion, 
& Co. owned one of them, the Oahu, which had been nearly worn out by long 
S3rvice in Honolulu; another was a small machine belonging to Wm Free, 
intended for a mining pump. The havoc made by the first great fire roused 
the people to the necessity for action, a:id assisted by experienced firemeu 
like D. C. Broderick, F. D. Kohler, G. H. Hossefros, G. W. Green, W. Me- 
Kibben, Ben. Ray, C. W. Cornell, J. A. McGlynn, Col Wason, Douglas, 
Short, and others, E, Otis organized the Independent Axe Company, tl:e 
municipal authorities granting &800 for the purchase of hooks, axes, and other 
implements. S. F. Minutes LerjisL, 1849, 101, 106, 112, 116, 127-36; Alta Cat., 
and Pac. News, Jan. 15, 17, 1850, etc. A hook and ladder company ia aba 
mentioned, also Mazeppa Fire Co., as well as payments and other acts by the 
fire committee. In January Kohler was appointed chief engineer by tlu 
council, at a salary of $3,000, with instructions to form a fire department, to 
which end he obtained the three engines in the city, and selected for each a 
company, Empire, Protection, and Eureka. No fire occurring for some time, 
the movement declined somewhat under absorbing business pursuits, so much 
so that the next disaster found scanty preparations to meet it. hose being 
especially deficient. After this the appeal to the public received greater at 
tention, and in June 1850 the fire department was formally organized, 
with the Empire Engine Company No. 1, dating formally from June 4th, with 
D. C. Broderick as foreman, G. W. Green, assistant, W. McKibben, secretary, 
and including F. D. Kohler, C. W. Cornell, J. A. McGlynn, D. Scannell, C. 
T. Borneo, J. Donohue, C. P. Duane, L. P. Bowman, A. G. Russ. It selected 
Onward for a motto, and formed in 1857 a target company of 125 muskets. 
Company 2 was the Protection, succeeded by the Lady Washington, and 
subsequently, in 1852, by the Manhattan. According to the Alta Cal. it waa 
first organized informally by Ben. Ray in 1849. Both of these were composed 
chiefly of New York men, and represented the New York element in politi 
cal and other contests. Company 3 was the Howard, formed June 14th by 
Boston men under guidance of F. E. R. Whitney, foreman, first chief of the 
later paid department. It was named in honor of W. H. M. Howard, who 
presented to it a Hunneman engine, just brought by his order, and which for 
a long time remained unsurpassed. Among the members were J. G. Eagan, 
T. K. Battelle, G. L. Cook. This was originally the Eureka, with Frees 
toy engine, which lost the claim to No. 1 by a few hours of delay in organiz 
ing. The fire of June 22d gave fresh impulse to organization, and on Sept. 
7th the California, company 4, was formed, at first with an engine loaned by 
Cook Bros & Co., soon replaced by a mate to the Howard. The members, 
chiefly residents of Happy Valley, embraced M. G. Leonard, G. U. Shaw, 
W. N. Thompson, G. T. Oakes, G. Endicott, C. Hyatt, R. S. Lamott, and G. M. 
Garwood, foreman. Company 5 was the Knickerbocker, formed Oct. 17th, 
with a small wheezy engine nicknamed Two-and-a-half and Yankee Doodle. 
Foreman J. H. Cutter, with J. Wilson, C. E. Buckingham, R. R. Harris. 
Earlier than these two were the Monumental 6, 7, 8, which organized in 
June as independent companies, joining the department Only in Sept., and so 
receiving a later number. It was composed of Baltimore men, with a mix 
ture of Philadelphians, who sported three small engines, Mechanical, Union, 
and Franklin. Among the members were G. H. Hossefros, long foreman and 
subsequently chief, W. Divier, J. S. Weathred, J. Capprise, R. B. Hampton, 
W. H. Silverthorn, J. H. Ruddock, R. H. Bennett, W. L. Bromley, and W. 
Lippincott. Soon after resigning No. 8 the companies consolidated into No. 
6, in 1854, with an improved engine, followed in 1861 by the first steam fire- 
engine in the city. No. 7 was filled by the Volunteer, and No. 8 by the Pa 
cific. Earlier than these two, in 1822, were the Vigilant and Crescent, chiefly 


spirit roused by personal feelings and business ri 
valry, and strengthened by an irritating subordina 
tion to military power. But it fully revived with 
the return of population from the mines, and in 
December 1848 a new council was chosen. 57 The 
result was far from pleasing to the old body, which, 
rallying its partisans, declared the election nullified by 
illegal votes, and held another in January. 58 To this 

of New Orleans men; Columbian and Pennsylvanian, of Philadelphians, in 
cluding the later Mayor Alvord. In 1854-55 followed the Young American 
and Tiger, Nos. 13, 14, the former at the mission, the latter on Second st. 
In early days, when hose and water were scanty, the chief work fell on 
the hook and ladder companies, of which the department in June 1850 counted 
three, the St Francis, composed of E. V. Joice, S. H. Ward, C. P. Duane, 
W. A Woodruff, G. B. Gibbs, B. G. Davis, J. C. Palmer, foreman, and others; 
the Howard, succeeded by Lafayette, which consisted of Frenchmen, with a 
Parisian system and a uniform granted by Napoleon; the Sansome, sustained 
chiefly by rich business men. A. De Witt, F. Mahoney, C. L. Case, E. A. 
Ebbets, J. L. Van Bokkelen, G. A. Hudson, W. Adrain, H. A. Harrison, 
W. H. Hoffman, W. Greene, F. A Bartlett, R. L. Van Brunt, were among the 
members. Green, Ebbets, and Van Bokkelen were the first foremen. Some 
years later hose companies were added, making up the 20 companies called 
for by the legislative regulation of 1851. The department charter is dated 
July 1, 1850. Kohler, elected chief in Sept. 1850, was succeeded in the fol 
lowing year by Whitney, of the Baltimore faction. He resigning, Hossef ros of 
the Philadelphians held the position till 1853, when Duane entered. In May 
1852 a board of firewardens was formed. The records of the department 
were lost in the fire of May 1851. A benevolent fund was then begun, which 
by 1855 amounted to $32,000 and grew to $100,000. For details, see Alia Cal, 
June 14, July 1, etc., 1850; Nov. 16, 1866; and scattered numbers of interme 
diate years; also Pac. Mews, Oct. 18, 1850, etc.; Cal. Courier, Sept. 25, 1850; 
and S, F. Herald, June 17, 1850, etc ; S F. Bulletin, Dec. 3, 1866; S. F. 
Chronicle, Nov. 11, 1877; S J. Pioneer. May 25, 1878; S. F. Call, Apr. 14, 
1878; Annals S. F , 614-25; and S F Directories, that of 1852, enumerates 14 
companies, whereof 2 are for hook and ladder; No 4 was situated as far east 
as Battery, No. 9 on Stockton, near Broadway, the rest more central. The 
formation of companies, each as much as possible composed of men hailing 
from the same eastern town, led to clannishness and rivalry, which in a meas 
ure was stimulating and useful, but also detrimental in leading to extrava 
gance, political strife, and even bloody affrays. They shared in military 
exploits, and in August 1850 one company started for Sacramento to sup 
press the land squatters. They vied with one another in elaborately fitting 
and decorating their fire stations. The Sansome company s station furniture 
akme cost $5,000, and had a library. While they merged finally at the close 
of 1869 into a paid department, their noble devotion in emergencies must ever 
be commended, leaving as they did business, pleasure, sleep, and comfort to 
voluntarily face toil and danger for the common good. 

57 By a vote of 347 on Dec. 27th. Members, John Townsend, president, 
S C. Harris, W. D. M. Howard, G C. Hubbard, R. A. Parker, T. J Roach, 
I. Sirrine, numbering now seven, as resolved. Star and Cal., Dec. 16, 1848, 
etc. For earlier members, see preceding vol. v.; Califorman, Oct. 7, 14, 1848, 
etc.; Frignet, Cal., 122. 

58 On the 15th. Harris and Sirrine were reelected, the latter becoming 
president. The other members were L Everhart, S. A Wright, D. Starks, 
ju Montgomery, and C. E. Wetmore. The election for delegates during the 

HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 14 


new corporation it transferred its authority, regard 
less of protests, and of the December council, which 
sought to assert itself. The opportunity was eagerly 
seized by disappointed aspirants to air their elo 
quence upon public rights and the danger of anarchy, 
and to assist in conjuring up a more exalted municipal 
power for the district in the form of a legislative as 
sembly of fifteen members, together with three jus 
tices of the peace. 59 Their election, on February 21st, 

preceding week tended to lower public interest in the event, and a much 
smaller vote was polled than before. The AUa CaL, Jan. 25, 1849, accord 
ingly considers it void. 

59 The justices were Myron Norton, T. R. Per Lee, both officers of Steven 
son s regt, and W. M. Stewart; the members, T. A. Wright, A. J. Ellis, H. 
A. Harrison, G. C. Hubbard, G. Hyde, I. Montgomery, VV. M. Smith, A. J. 
Grayson, J. Creighton, R. A. Parker, T. J. Roach, W. F. Swasey, T. H. 
Green, F. J. Lippett, and G. F. Lemon. U. S. Gov. Doc., Cong. 31, Sess. 1, 
H. Ex. Doc., 17, 730, with text of resolutions at the decisive meeting on Feb. 
12th, reported also in AUa CaL, Feb. 15, 1849. The plan of the organization 
was presented by G. Hyde, formerly alcalde, who in his Stat., MS., 10-12, 
points out that only a few of the members obtained less than 400 out of the 
602 votes cast. Placer Times, May 12, 1849, etc. According to McGowan, A. 
A. Green of the Stevenson regt gave a start to the meetings which created 
the legislative assembly. S. F. Post, Nov. 23, 1878. Ryan, Pers. Adv., ii. 
250-2, calls this faction the democratic, Leavenworth heading the aristocratic 
land-grabbers. The assembly met on March 5th at the public institute, 
Dwnelle s Col. Hist., 106, doc. iv., although business began only on Mar. 
12th; Lippett was appointed speaker; J. Code, sergeant-at-arms; E. Gilbert, 
printer; F. Ward, treasurer, later J. S. Owens; J. Hyde, district attorney; 
I. H. Ackerman, clerk, succeeded by A. A. Green and A. Roane. For rules, 
acts, and committee appointments, see S. F. Minutes Legist., 5-4:6. Owing 
to the frequent absence of members and lack of quorum, their number was 
increased by ten, elected on May llth, whereof W. A. and E. G. Buffum, 
A. A. Green, Theo. Smith, C. R. V. Lee, S. McGerry, and J. M. Huxley, 
took their seat on the 14th, Burke and P. H. Burnett subsequently. The 
proportion of Stevenson s soldiers in the body was large. For biographies, 
see preceding vols. An early measure was to forbid the sale of lots or other 
city property, which served to rally a host to the support of Alcalde Leaven- 
worth, including the displaced council members. Loud charges had been 
made against the alcalde for lavish grants of land, and in such a manner as 
to permit its accumulation by monopolists for speculation, also for maladminis 
tration. Hyde s Statm., MS., 13; AUa CaL, Mar. 29, 1849. This attitude 
led the assembly on March 22d to decree the abolition of the alcaldeship and 
the offices depending upon it, Norton, as the first justice of the peace, being 
appointed to fill the vacancy under the title of police magistrate, J. C. Pullis 
being shortly after elected sheriff to assist him. The appeal of the assembly 
to Gen. Smith for support proved futile. He sustained the alcalde. Greater 
impression was made upon Gen. Riley, who at this time entered as military 
governor. Less prudent and firm, he lent his ear first to one side and sus 
pended Leavenworth on May 6th, then the old council of 1848 assisted in 
obtaining his reinstatement on June 1st; and notwithstanding repeated 
resignations he retained the alcaldeship. Correspondence in U. S. Gov. Doc., 
as above, 733-6, 758-60, 771; Placer Times, June 2, 1844. He was ineffi 
cient, says Hawley, Stat., MS., 9. Even Commodore Jones writes, June 29th, 
that he was very obnoxious to the people. Unbound Doc., 55, 66, 228, 319-20. 


brought to the front a very respectable body of men, 
full of reform projects, but regarding the innovation 
as unauthorized by still prevailing laws, the governor 
would not accord them any active interference with the 
alcalde, who stood arrayed himself with their oppo 
nents, the land monopolists. And so the city continued 
to be afflicted with practically two governments, which 
maintained a sharp cross-fire of contradictory enact 
ments and charges until June, when the governor s 
proclamation for a constitutional convention, and for 
the election of provisional local officers throughout 
the country, caused the assembly to abandon the field 
to the alcalde. They retired with honor; for viewed 
by the light of subsequent corruption, even their defi 
ciencies are bright with the lustre of earnest efforts. 

One result of the political discord was to give 
opportunity for lawlessness. The riffraff of the dis 
banded regiment of New York Volunteers had lately 
formed an association for cooperation in benevolence 
and crime, under the not inappropriate title of the 
Hounds, with headquarters in a tent bearing the no 
less dubious appellation of Tammany Hall, after the 

Backed by Burnett the assembly protested vigorously, and in a proclamation 
to the city set forth the illegality of military interference. Burnett s Recoil,, 
MS., ii. 61-87; AUa Cal., June 14, 1849. Acting accordingly, they sent the 
sheriff to forcibly seize the records in the alcalde s possession. Ryan, Pers. 
Adv., ii. 252-4, gives a graphic account of the pistol flourishing on the occa 
sion. Buffums Six Mont/is, 117-19. Appalled at such insolence, Riley de 
nounced the legislature as a usurping body, and called wildly upon all good 
citizens to aid in restoring the records. U. S. Gov. Doc., ubi sup., 773-4. 
Simultaneously, June 3d, appeared the proclamation for a convention, and 
for local elections throughout the country, an order so far delayed in the vain 
hope that congress would provide a civil government. This election pre 
tending the speedy extinction of the assembly, the members, with hopes cen 
tred in the next balloting, resolved to yield; yet not until after a deferential 
appeal to the public, which responded on July 9th by a vote of confidence so 
meagre as to be chilling. The smallness of the vote, 167 for their continu 
ance, 7 against, was due to the departure of supporters for the mines, says 
Green, Stat., MS., 24; AUaCal, July 12, 17, 1849. VVilley, Pers. Mem., 127- 
8, assumes that Riley terrified them. Their minutes cease on June 4th, the 
date of Riley s proclamation against them. Green naturally extols the honesty 
of his associates; he claims to have refused a land bribe from Leavenworth 
for himself and his monopoly friends on introducing the bill for abolishing the 
alcaldeship. Findla, Stat., MS., 9-10, also speaks of them as respectable 
men. Prices Sketch, MS., 111. 


noted eastern hot-bed of that name. 60 It is but natural 
that this graceless set of idlers should, through lack of 
manly incentive, drift into political agitation, and that 
the original military aim of their late regiment should 
degenerate into race antipathy and rioting. Drunk 
enness and brawl, displayed in noisy processions with 
drum and fife and streaming banners, led to swagger 
ing insolence and intimidation, which found a seemingly 
safe vent against the Hispano- Americans. Once the 
robber instinct was aroused by the more disreputable, 
it was not long before a glittering vista opened a wider 

The unsavory name of Hounds was changed to 
Regulators; and under pretence of watching over 
public security and rights, the vagabonds intruded 
themselves in every direction, especially upon the 
exposed and defenceless; and they boldly demanded 
contributions of the merchants in support of their 
self-assumed mission. Strength of numbers and arms 
and significant threats increased, until terrorism stalked 
undisguised. Finally, on July 15, 1849, under inspirit 
ing stimulants, they ventured to make an attack in 
force upon the Chileno quarter, at the foot of Tele 
graph hill, with the avowed object of driving out the 
hated foreigners, and despoiling them. Not knowing 
what next might follow, the alarmed citzens united for 
action. Four companies formed, with a huge special 
police detachment, and the town was scoured in pur 
suit of the now scattering band. A score were arrested, 
and by the prompt application of fine and imprisonment 
the rest were awed into submission. 61 

The election of August 1, 1849, restored the ayun- 
tamiento and prefect system, while giving the city the 
increased number of twelve councilmen, 62 under the 

60 Of New York. The tent stood on Kearny st, where Commercial st now 

61 The history of the band and outbreak is fully related in my Popular 
Tribunals, i. 76 et seq. 

2 T. H. Green, H. A. Harrison, A. J. Ellis, S. C. Harris, T. B. Winston, 
J. Townsend, R. M. Price, W. H. Davis, B. Simmons, S. Brannan, W. M. 


presidency of John W. Geary, the lately arrived post 
master of the city, 03 who responded to the unanimous 
confidence bestowed upon him by displaying great zeal 
for the welfare of the city. Horace Hawes, the pre 
fect, was an able lawyer, but with a somewhat fiery 
temperament that soon brought about a conflict with 
his colleagues. 64 Acting upon the suggestions of their 
leader, 65 the council issued a revenue ordinance, de- 

Stewart, G. B. Post, in the order of popularity as indicated by votes obtained. 
Four had belonged to the assembly, and two to the council which it super- 
ceded. Frank Turk, second alcalde, acted for a long time as secretary to the 
new council; the subprefects for the districts were F. Guerrerro and J. R. Cur 
tis. Alcalde Geary obtained the entire vote of 1,516, while Prefect Hawea 
polled only 913. The three highest votes for councilmen were carried by late 
assembly members. There were nearly a dozen tickets in the field. 

63 Geary was born in Westmoreland Co., Pa. After his father s death, he 
taught school, supporting his mother, and paying off his father s indebted 
ness. He next went to Pittsburg and entered into mercantile pursuits, 
which proved uncongenial. Meanwhile he studied assiduously, displaying a 
marked taste for mathematics, and became a civil engineer and railroad super 
intendent. When the war with Mexico broke out, he joined the 2d Pa. Vols. , 
rose to the rank of col, way wounded at Chapultepec, and appointed com 
mander of the citadel after the city fell. He was appointed postmaster of 
S. F. on Jau. 22, 1849, with a certain control over postal matters on the 
Pacific coast. With his family he reached S. F. on the Oregon on Apr. 1st. 
His administration was one of marked efficiency. Learning that Prest. 
Taylor had appointed a successor, Geary turned the office over to Col Bryan. 
At this time he sent his family back to Pa. , and became a member of the 
auction and commission house of Geary, Van Voorhees, and Sutton. 

64 Biography in Hist. Cal., iii., this series. 

65 Geary in his inaugural address pointed out the lack of public buildings, 
and funds and measures for security, and recommended a tax, not alone on 
real estate and auction sales, but on licenses for traders, in proportion to 
the goods vended, for conveyances by land and water, and for gambling; 
the latter as an inevitable evil being thus placed under salutary control. An 
inventory should be made of public documents and mutilations noted. Records 
were subsequently sought at Monterey. Hawes dwelt upon the necessity 
for measures conducive to prospective greatness of the city without making 
any special suggestions. S. F. Minutes, 1849, 221-4; Annals S. F., 230-1. 
He took the oath on Aug. 1 1th. The council met, from Aug. 6th, on an average 
twice a week. Their proceedings, with committee distributions, etc., are re 
corded in S. F. Minutes, 1849, 47 et seq. The attendance fell off to such a 
degree that the quorum had to be reduced to four by the close of the year. 
Rules for their guidance in general were sent in by the governor. U. S. Gov. 
Doc.., Cong. 31, Sess. 1, H. Ex. Doc., 17, 775-6. Among appointed officials 
were J. Code, sergeant-at-arms, W. M. Eddy, surveyor, P. C. Lander, col 
lector, A. C. Peachy, attorney, S. C. Simmons, controller, Ben. Burgoyne, 
treasurer, succeeded in Dec. by G. Meredith; P. C. Lander, tax collector, 
J. R. Palmer, physician, subsequently Stivers and Thorp, S. R. Gerry became 
health officer in Dec., J. E. Townes, sheriff, in Dec. appointed coroner. N. R. 
Davis, street commissioner, subsequently J. J. Arentrue, in Dec. , J. Gallagher, 
inspector of liquors. Turk, second alcalde and acting secretary, took a seat 
in the council and was in Dec. replaced as secretary by H. L. Dodge. F. D. 
Kohler has been mentioned as chief fire-engineer. Under the prefecture 
were appointed P. A. Brinsmade, subprefect, in Dec., vice Curtis, F. P. 


pending chiefly on the sale of real estate and mer 
chandise, and on licenses for trading, 66 the latter of a 
hasty and disproportionate nature. Not deeming this 
sufficient to cover their teeming plans, notably for city 
hall, hospital, and public wharves, they prepared for 
a large sale of water lots, which were coming into 
eager demand. The first available money was applied 
to the purchase of a prison brig 67 and shackles for 
chain-gangs; the police force was placed on a regular 
and more efficient footing; 68 fire-engines were ordered ; 
and strenuous efforts made to improve the streets, so 
as to prevent a repetition of the previous winter s mis 
haps, 69 yet the following season proved comparatively 

Tracy, justice of the peace at the mission, W. B. Almond, judge of first in 
stance with civil jurisdiction only, Hall McAllister, attorney, pay $2,000, 
both from Oct. 1st, F. Billings, commissioner of deeds, A. H. Flint, surveyor; 
also a host of notaries public. See Id., 756-840, passim; Unbound Doc., 224, 
323-9. etc.; Brown s Stat., MS., 16; Merrill s Stat., MS., 5-6; Arch. Mont., 
xiv. 18; Gal. Miscel., ix. pt. i. 77; Alta Cal, Pac. News, Dec. 13, 1849, etc.; 
Gillette s Vig., MS., 6; Hyde s Stat., MS., 12; Miscel., MS., 3. 

66 On Aug. 27th. The prefect presumed to veto this ordinance, on the ground 
of the disproportionate nature of the imposts which pressed excessively upon 
labor and on men with limited means, a dealer with a capital of $150,000, 
for instance, paying $400 only, while a small trader with $1,000 was required 
to pay $300. He also considered the revenue called for in excess of require 
ment, and demanded details for expenditure, which should be proportioned 
to the measures most needed, especially protection. The ordinance was also 
contrary to law in defining new misdemeanors and extending the jurisdiction 
of the alcalde. S. F. Minutes, 1849, 224-7. The ardor of this champion of the 
oppressed was somewhat damped by the reminder that the veto power be 
longed to the governor, to whom he might report any objections against the 
council. The governor offered $10,000 toward the formation of a jail and 

G1 Euphemia, anchored near the corner of Jackson and Battery sts. A 
calaboose existed, but so poor and insufficient as to induce the former assem 
bly to rent a room for a jail. S. F. Minutes, 1849, 10, 40, 142. The brig was 
soon overcrowded. Alta Cal., Aug. 4, 1850; Cal. Courier, July 16, 1850. A 
regular allowance was made for the chain-gang overseer, whose task promoted 
much public work. A regular jail was erected on Broadway in 1851. Id. y 
Sept. 30, 1851. 

68 Under the direction of Malachi Fallon, as captain, chosen Aug. 13th, 
assisted by Major Beck and by a force which from 30 men increased to 50 by 
Feb. 1850, and by the following year to 75. The pay had also risen from $6 
to $8 a day, with $2 extra for the 5 captains. It was then proposed to reduce 
the force to 46 men and 4 captains at $150 and $200 a month, fb. Gold and 
silver badges were ordered for the first chief and his men; a station was as 
signed to each of the 4 wards. See S. F. Minutes, 1849, 52-3, 79, 90-1, 102, 
131, 167; 8. F. Herald, July 12, 1850; Schenck s Vig., MS., 22. Fallon was 
chosen city marshal by the democrats in 1850. S. F, Times, Jan. 12, 1867. 
Fallon had served in the New York force. Fifty-eight names on his force in 
S. F. Directory, 1850, 123^. 

69 A street commissioner received $500 a month, and a superintendent of 
public repairs $600. Teams were bought by the city for clearing streets. 


dry Several sums were assigned for starting wharves 
on Market, California, and Pacific streets, which in 
course of two years absorbed over $300, OOO. 70 The 
proposed hospital dwindled to a contract with Peter 
Smith, which proved a costly bargain for the city, 71 and 
to allowances to the state marine hospital and subse 
quently to a brig for housing insane people. 

So far the plans of the city-builders had not brought 
forth any public work of a striking character, save in 
street improvements; but this shortcoming redounds 
to their credit, for at the close of the year they left a 
surplus in the treasury. 72 Far different was the record 
of the following councils. By the election of January 
8, 1850, Alcalde Geary and half of his colleagues were 
confirmed in position by more than double the preced 
ing vote. The rest were new men, 73 who assisted, not 
alone in laying the foundation for a fast-growing debt, 
but in reducing the resources of the city by hurried 

Although citizens paid two thirds of the cost of grading and planking from 
their own pockets, as the grand jury points out, S. F. Herald, Sept. 30, 
1851, yet large sums were continually appropriated by the authorities to this 
end, $100,000, on Jan. 1850, alone. S. F. Minutes, 1849-50, 124; William* 
Stat., MS., 13. The comptroller shows an expenditure for streets and land 
ings, exclusive of wharves, from Aug. 1849 to Feb. 1851, of $471,282. Ati,i 
Cal., Apr. 27, 1851. 

70 Ib. $400,000 was appropriated for these wharves, Jan. 7, 18, 1850, al 
though evidently not all paid over. Id., 112-14, 123-4. 

7 1 The plans proposed in the council included a building with a city hall. 
The Waverly house was subsequently bought for $20.000, but destroyed by 
fire. In Jan. 1850 the hospital bill amounted to $6,600, in April Smith de 
manded $13,000. This hospital was burned in Sept. 1850. Up to May 1851, 
over $200,026 had been expended for hospital purposes. A ltd Cal., Apr. 27, 
1851. To the state marine hospital, provided for in 1850 and opened in Dec., 
Pac. News, Dec. 27, 1850, Cal Statutes, 1850, 164, 343, was assigned $30,000, 
while its expenses were $70,000, for 97 city and 17 state patients. In 1851 a 
contract was concluded for the care of the city at $2,500 a month. An in 
sufficient allowance was then made to the brig at North Beach for the recep 
tion of the insane. In 1850 pauper burials were arranged for at $35 each. 
&. F. Minutes, 1849-50, 68, 79-82, 98, 129-30, 138, 200; S. F. Herald, Sept. 
30, 1851. Smith s claims will be treated of later. 

72 Of $40,000, and 110 bad blot upon their public character. 

73 Geary received the largest vote, being 3,425. Turk figures again as second 
alcalde. Green, Brannan, Ellis, Stewart, Davis, were the reelected council- 
men. J. S. Graham, F. Tilford, M. Crooks, A. M. Van Nostrand, H. C. 
Murray, F. C. Gray, and J. Hagan completed the number. They met Jan. 
1 Ith and formed into committees. Dodge was retained as clerk. A. A. 
Selover was chosen city auctioneer. S. F. Minutes, 1850, 115 et seq. ; Pac. 
News, Feb. 1850, etc. Despite the rain the election was exciting, though 
orderly. Upliams Notes, 268-71. 


sales of lots, wherein they were charged with secret 
participation to their own advantage. 74 The tirade 
begun against them by Prefect Hawes was cut short 
by the election on May 1st of new city officials, under 
the charter framed in February. By this the Span 
ish form of government was replaced by the Ameri 
can one of a common council with two boards of 
aldermen, each of eight members, under a mayor. 75 
The county was also organized by an election on 

74 After a sale of water Iot3 in Jan. 1850 yielding $635,000, another sale 
was announced for March. Prefect Hawes, who had been putting some very 
nettling questions to the ayuntamiento concerning disbursements and men 
voting for them, sounded the alarm and induced the governor to issue a pro 
hibit. This the councilmen resolved to disregard, whereupon Hawes charged 
them with intended spoliation, and pointed out that some were suspiciously 
preparing to leave the country. The prohibit was affirmed with the threat to 
file a bill in chancery against the ayuntamiento, which now yielded in so far 
as to postpone the sale until April. *The enemy have fled, cries Attor 
ney-general Ke wen; they have exposed the character of the beast that pa 
raded so ostentatiously in the lion s skin. Correspondence in #. F. Minutes, 
1850, 230-7. But they were merely gaining time to persuade the governor to 
repeal the prohibit by exhibiting their accounts and estimates, and showing 
the need of money for city improvements. This achieved, they retaliated 
upon the obnoxious prefect, by charging him with appropriation of funds, 
notably $2,500 for alleged services rendered against the Hounds, and with per 
mitting Justice Colton to sell district and city lands chiefly for Hawes own 
advantage. The result was a boomerang in the shape of an order suspending 
the prefect. Emphatic denials being of no avail, his wrath now concentrated 
against the governor in a series of charges before the legislature, for violating 
the laws and suspiciously conniving with the corrupt council. In this he was 
supported by the subprefect, Brinsmade, appointed to replace him. Pac. 
Ne^vs, Jan. 1, 1850, et seq. 

75 As passed by the legislature on Apr. 15, 1850, the charter in 4 arts, and 
45 IT, assigns as boundaries to the city of San Francisco, on the south, a line 
parallel to Clay st two miles from Portsmouth square; on the west, a line par 
allel to Kearny st one and a half miles from the square; on the north and east, 
the county limits. The government is vested in a mayor, recorder, and a com 
mon council of a board composed of aldermen and a board of assistant aldermen, 
each board to consist of one member from each of the eight wards, to be desig 
nated by the council. There shall also be elected a treasurer, comptroller, street 
commissioner, collector of taxes, marshal, city attorney, and by each ward two 
assessors. Voters and candidates must show a residence in the city and wards 
concerned of 30 days preceding the general city election, which is to be held on 
the fourth Monday of April in each year. For duties, bonds, etc., see Col. 
Statutes, 1850, 223-9; and compare with the briefer draft by the framers, in 
8. F. Minutes, 1850, 144-9. In Oct. 1848 the city council had assigned for 
city limits a line along Guadalupe creek to the ocean. Califot-nian, Oct. 14, 
1848; and see my Hist. Cal., v., this series. Regulations for the council in S. 
F. Manual, p. ix.-xvi. This charter did not last long. The boundary of the 
county, as defined in Cal. Laws, 1850, 829, ran along San Francisquito creek 
westward into the ocean, three miles out, and in the bay to within three 
miles of high-water mark in Contra Costa county, including the entire penin 
sula, and Alcatraz and Yerba Buena or Goat islands, as well as the Fara- 
llones. See also Cal. Jour. Sen., 1850, 1307; Id., House, 1344. 


April 1st of sheriff, county clerk, and nine other offi 
cials, at San Francisco, so that the city became the 
seat of two governments. 76 The contest for the shriev 
alty was one of the most exciting on record, with 
lavish generosity on one side, and enthusiastic display of 
bands and banners on the other; but the fame of John 
C. Hays as a Texan ranger, and his opportune exhibi 
tions of dash and horsemanship, captured the popu 
lace. 77 

The new city government headed once more by 
Geary as mayor, 78 with almost entirely new associates, 
met on May 9th, inaugurating at the same time the 
new city hall, lately the Graham house, a four-sfcory 
wooden edifice lined on two sides by continuous bal 
conies. 79 The leading trait of these men was quickly 

76 The chosen ones were John C. Hays, sheriff, R. N. Morrison, county 
judge, J. A. McGlynn, recorder, W. M. Eddy, surveyor, J. \V. Endicott, 
treas., D. M. Chauncey, assessor, E. Gallagher, coroner, T. J. Smith, co. att y, 
C. Benham, dist att y, J. E. Addison, co. clerk, E. H. Tharp, clerk of the 
sup. ct. 

77 He was selected by the people as an independent candidate. His career 
is given in Hist. North Mex. Statesand Texas, ii., this series. His opponents 
were J. Townes, a whig who was appointed to the post in 1849, and J. J. 
Bryant, democratic nominee, and a man of wealth, owner of Bryant s hotel. 
The latter was the only real rival. Pioneer Arch., 29-31. 

78 His associates were F. Tilf ord, recorder, T. H. Holt, att y, C. G. Scott, 
treas., B. L. Berry, comptroller, W. M. Irwin, collector, D. McCarthy, street 
com., M. Fallon, marshal. The aldermen were Wm Green, president, C. 
Minturn, F. W. Macondray, D. Gillespie, A. A. Selover, W. M. Burgoyne, 
C. W. Stuart, M. L. Mott; assistant aldermen, A. Bartol, president, C. T. 
Botts, W. Sharron, J. Maynard, J. P. Van Ness, L. T. Wilson, A. Morris, 
W. Corbett. Aldermen Burgoyne and Macondray not taking their seat were re 
placed by M. G. Leonard and J. Middleton, and assistant aldermen Botts and 
Maynard, by G. W. Green and J. Grant. For assessors, clerks, court officials, 
police, pilots, men under J. Hagen, harbor-master, etc., see S. F. Directory, 
1850, 122-9; S. F. Annah, 272-3; Alta Cat. and Pac. News, Apr. 26-May 21, 
1850, with comments. On ward division, Id., Dec. 14, 1850; S. F. Herald, 
June 6, 1850, etc.; S. F. Municipal Repts, 1859, 177-9; 8. F. Picayune, Oct. 
5, 8, Nov. 2, 1850; Cal Courier, Aug. 12, 1850. T. Green claims to have ab 
stained from contesting the mayoralty out of sympathy for Geary. 

79 It stood on the north-west corner of Kearny and Pacific sts, fronting 100 
fset on Kearny st, with a depth of 64 feet. The commodious yard contained 
two wells and several outhouses. The roof was metallic. This was offered 
by Graham, member of the council in April 1850, to his associates and bought 
by them on Apr. 1st, for $150,000, less $50,000 in exchange for the lately pur 
chased town hall on Stockton st. Tired of drifting between the narrow con 
fines of the public institute and the old adobe custom-house on the west side of 
the plaza, the preceding council had bought the American hotel on Stockton st, 
near Broadway, evidently to promote the lot speculations of certain members. 
Thither the council removed on the 18th of March, but the order for other 
officials to follow the example was vigorously objected to, on the ground that 


manifested in their greed for spoils, to which end a 
heavier schedule of taxes was projected, with a corre 
spondingly increased number of drainage holes, more 
or less cunningly concealed. Not content with the 
reward that must imperceptibly flow into their pockets 
from this effort, they hastened to anticipate a portion 
by voting a salary of $6,000 to each alderman of the 
two boards, after assigning a propitiatory $10,000 to 
the mayor and some of his chief aids. Geary refused 
to participate in the scheme; and encouraged by his 
attitude, the public loudly protested against such 
brazen spoliation of an already burdened city. The 
council thereupon dropped its demands 80 to $4,000 
which would have given them, had not the measure 
been vetoed, about a hundred dollars for each of the 
evenings devoted by the average member to the com 
mon weal. They sought solace, however, for their 
lacerated feelings, by voting themselves gold medals 
of sufficient size to impress an ungrateful public with 
the arduous services thereby commemorated. 81 

With such and other glaring diversions of public 
funds it can readily be conceived what the secret pil- 

the hall was too remote from business centres. Nor did the offer to rent offices 
therein find favor. And so the present purchase was made; a bargain it was 
loudly claimed, for the two upper stories, with 36 rooms, besides others on the 
second floor, could be rented for perhaps $62,400, while the saving in rents 
by the scattered public offices, stations, and courts would amount to $70,000. 
To build a hall according to the adopted plan would cost $300,000, and require 
perhaps a year s delay, neither of which the city could afford. Report in 
S. F. Minutes, 1850, 191^1. Descriptions in 8. F. Herald, Feb. 19, 1851; Pac. 
News, May 17, 1850, etc. The report maybe taken with due allowance, how 
ever, for changes and repairs increased the cost of the building. Unlxmnd Doc. , 
58. On July 4, 1850, the plaza was adorned with a faultless new liberty pole, 
120 feet long, presented by Portland city. 8. F. Herald, July 4, 1850. The 
old pole was burned with the custom-house, corner of Montgomery and Cali 
fornia sts, in May 1851. 8. F. Annals, 282. 

80 Several public meetings were held, and a first committee of 25 being 
ignored, another of 500 was chosen to impress the aldermen. S. F. Herald, 
June 12, 1856, etc. ; Pac. News, May 3, 1850, etc. Just then came a large fire 

to divert attention, and subsequent demonstrations uroved less imposing. 
The mayor vetoed the $4,000, on the ground that it would also injure the 
credit of the city. A Ita CaL, May 27, 1850, etc. The charter of 1851 allowed 

81 Even here a prying curiosity, coupled with impertinent sarcasm, so far 
disturbed the composure of the aldermen that they cast the medals into the 
melting-pot, as the nearest pit of oblivion, although too late. The S. F. An 
nals, 306, understands that the scheme was mainly due to a sub-committee. 
Cal Courier, Dec. 14, 21, 1850. 


fering and rifling must have been, when it is shown 
that the expenditure for the nineteen months following 
August 1, 1849, amounted to more than two million 
dollars, of which more than one fourth was during the 
last three months. 82 This absorbed not only a liberal 
tax levy, and the larger and choicer proportion of public 
lands, 83 but compelled the issue of scrip at an interest 
of thirty-six per cent. 84 Issued one after the other, 
without prospect of speedy payment, this paper depre 
ciated sixty per cent and more, till contractors and pur 
veyors were obliged in self-protection to charge twice 
and thrice the amounts due them. Unscrupulous 
officials and speculators, moreover, seized the oppor 
tunity to make fortunes by purchasing the scrip at 
low rates, and paying it into the treasury at par in 
lieu of the coin obtained for taxes. Thus a debt of 
more than a million rolled up within the year ending 
February 1851, and grew so rapidly, while city prop 
erty and credit so declined, that the legislature had to 
come to the rescue with restrictive enactments. 85 

82 Among the items figured $41,905 for printing; surveying absorbed 
another big sum; the city hall purchase, with repairs, etc., absorbed about 

83 The sale of Jan. 3, 1850, of water lots yielded $635,130, and in April 
followed another big sale. 

8 * Three per cent monthly, which was by no means exorbitant at the 

85 As will be seen later. The first deficit of $24,000 appeared in the Jan.- 
Feb. 1850 account. On Aug. 31st the debt was $282,306. S. F. Picayune, 
Sept. 5, 1850; S. F. Directory, 1852, 14. On March 1, 1851, it had risen to 
$1,099.557.56. S. F. AUa Cal, Apr. 27, 1851. Soon after the debt was 
funded for $1,300,000. The expenditures from Aug. 1, 1849, to Jan. 28, 
1851, amounted to $2,012,740.10; on the streets, wharves, and landings, there 
were expended $826,395.56; on hospitals, cemeteries, and board of health, 
$231,358.86; on police and prisons, $208,956.87; on fire dept, $108,337.85; on 
courts, $236,892.12; and the balance of over $400,000 on salaries, rents, print 
ing, etc. During the quarter ending Feb. 28, 1851, the receipts and expen 
ditures were: Received from licenses, $25,744.55; from hospital fund, $301; 
from courts, $2,734.50; wharf dues, 333.95; sale of beach and water lots, 
$5,230.65; and from street assessments, $103,355.40. On the other hand, 
the fire and water department caused an expenditure of $7,945. 10; the streets, 
including surveys, $223,482.28; the prison, courts, and police, $20,464.19; 
hospital, including cholera expenses, $41,036.11; wharves, $39,350.59; and 
the salaries, legal expenses, printing, and other contingent items, nearly 
$80,000. S. F. AUa, Apr. 27, 1851. The grand jury of Sept. 1851 com 
mented in scathing terms upon the * shameful squandering by parties whom 
they were unable to designate. By that time nearly all the city property had 
been disposed of, valued at three or four million, yet this, added to revenue 
and loans, had failed to leave the city any commensurate benefit. Sacra- 


mento, without landed resources, had received proportionately larger bene 
fits, by incurring a debt of less than half a million. Benicia s scrip was 
nearly at par. The main exhibit by S. F. was in grading and planking, two 
thirds of which cost had been contributed by the property owners. Similar 
was the showing for the county, which had expended $455,807 for the year 
ending June 1851, while the receipts were only $69,305. Most of the sums 
allowed were pointed out as suspicious. See report in S. F. Herald, Sept. 
30, 1851; Aug. 5, 22, 30, 1850; Aug. 29, 1851; Cal Courier, Id., and Oct. 
26, Dec. 6, 1850; Cal. Polit. Scraps, 123; Richardsons Mining Exp., MS., 30; 
A Ita Cal., Apr. 27, 1851, etc.; S. F. Picayune, Aug. 3-5, Sept. 5, 1850. The 
assessed value of property for 1851 was $17,000,000, and the estimated rev 
enue $550,000, $400,000 being from licenses. This was declared amply suffi 
cient for expenses, now reduced by $410,000, of which $290,000 was for sala 
ries of municipal officers and police. Reprehensible as the mismanagement 
was, these aldermen were not worse than many of their accusers, nor half so 
bad as some later councilmen, who ranked us permanent citizens and esteemed 
members of the community; for the former were comparative strangers, 
afflicted by the prevailing mania for speedy enrichment, and with no inten 
tion of remaining in California. Geary s demeanor is not wholly spotless. 
His unassuming manners and ability, and his veto on many obnoxious meas 
ures, gave an eclat to his official career, which served greatly to gloss over 
several questionable features, such as amassing some $200,000 in less than 
three years, not derived from trade; illegally buying city lots; countenanc 
ing the purchase of the useless city hall on Stockton st; and other doubtful 
transactions connected with the disposal of city property and money. He 
returned to Pa in Feb. 1852, served with distinction in the civil war, and 
became gov. of his native state. His portrait is given in Ann. S. F., 725. 




SOCIETY during the flush times of California pre 
sents several remarkable features besides the Baby 
lonian confusion of tongues, and the medley of races 
and nationalities. It was a gathering without parallel 
in history, for modern means of communication alone 
made it possible. The inflowing argonauts of 1849 
found San Francisco not only a tented city, like 
the rest of the interior towns and camps, but a com 
munity of men. The census of 1850 places the female 
population, by that time fast increasing, at less than 
eight per cent of the total inhabitants of the country, 
while in mining counties the proportion fell below two 
per cent. 1 

1 Calaveras shows only 267 women in a total of 16,884; Yuba, 221 in a 
total of 9,673; Mariposa, 108 in 4,379, yet here only 80 were white women; 
Sacramento, 615 in 9,087. In the southern counties, chiefly occupied by 
Mexicans, the proportion approaches the normal, Los Angeles having 1,519 
women in a total of 3,530. U. S. Census, 1850, 969 et seq. The proportion in 
1849 may be judged from the overland migration figures, which still in 1850 
allows a percentage of only two for women, with a slightly larger fraction for 
children. Sac. Transcript, Sept. 30, 1850; S. F. Picayune, Sept. 6, 1850. 
Many writers on this period fall into the usual spirit of exaggeration by re 
ducing the females even more. Burnett, Kec., MS., ii. 35-7, for instance, 



It was, moreover, a community of young men. 
There was scarcely a gray head to be seen. 2 From 
these conditions of race, sex, and age, exposed to 
strange environment, result phases of life and char 
acter which stamp the golden era of California as 

Of nationalities the flow from Europe alone equalled 
in variety that of the mediaeval crusades, with notable 
prominence to the leading types, the self-complacent 
Briton, the methodic and reflective German, and the 
versatile Gaul. The other continents contributed to 
swell the list. Africa was represented, besides the 
orthodox negro, by swarthy Moors and straight-fea 
tured Abyssinians. Asia and Australasia provided 
their quota in pig-tailed, blue-garbed Mongols, with 
their squat, bow-legged cousins of Nipon, lithe and 
diminutive Malays, dark-skinned Hindoos enwrapped 
in oriental dreaminess, the well-formed Maoris and 
Kanakas, the stately turbaned Ottomans, and the ubi 
quitous Hebrews, ever to be found in the wake of 
movements offering trade profits. 3 The American 
element preponderated, however, the men of the 
United States, side by side with the urbane and pic 
turesque Hispano- Americans, and the half-naked 
aborigines. The Yankee fancied himself over all, 
with his political and commercial supremacy, being 
full of great projects and happy devices for surmount 
ing obstacles, even to the achieving of the seemingly 
impossible; 4 and fitted no less by indomitable energy, 

assumes only 15 per mille for San Francisco, which naturally had a larger 
proportion of women than the mining camps. 

^Calaveras exhibits in its total of 16,884 only 69 persons over 60 years; 
Yuba only 21 in its total of 9,673. Ib. 

3 Helper, Land of Gold, 53-4, states that the * general dislike to their race 
induced many to trade under assumed names. See also McDaniels 1 Early 
Days, MS., 4. 

4 Their selfishness, tempered by sagacious self-control, is generally of that 
broad class which best promotes the general weal. They readily combine for 
great undertakings, with due subordination, yet without fettering individual 
ity, as manifested in the political movements for which they have been fitted 
from childhood by participation in local and general affairs. Lambertie 
extols the audacious enterprise qui confond un Francais, and the courageous 
energy which yields to no reverses. Voy., 209-10. Auger, Voy., 105-6, also 
admires the power to organize. See Culi/oniM Inter Pocula, this series. 


shrewdness, and adaptability than by political and 
numerical rights to assume the mastery, 5 and so lift 
into a progressive state a virgin field which under 
English domination might have sunk into a stagnant 
conservative colony, or remained under Mexican sway 
an outpost ever smouldering with revolution. 

As compared with this foremost of Teutonic peo 
ples, the French, as the Latin representatives, appeared 
to less advantage in the arts needful for building up a 
commonwealth. Depth of resource, practical sense, 
and force of character could not be replaced by effer 
vescing brilliancy and unsustained dash. They show 
here rather in subordinate efforts conducive to creature 
comforts, 6 while Spanish- Americans were conspicuous 
from their well-known lack of sustained energy. 7 

The clannish tendencies of the Latin peoples, due 
partly to the overbearing conduct of the Anglo-Sax 
ons, proved not alone an obstacle to the adoption of 
superior methods and habits, but fostered prejudices 
on both sides. This feeling developed into open hos 
tility 8 on the part of a thoughtless and less respect 
able portion of the northern element, whose jealousy 
was roused by the success achieved by the quicker 
eye and experience of the Spanish-American miners. 
The Chinese did not become numerous enough until 
1851 to awaken the enmity which in their case was 
based on still wider grounds. 9 

6 Among the less desirable elements were the ungainly, illiterate crowds 
from the border states, such as Indiana Hoosiers and Missourians, or Pike 
County people, and the pretentious, fire-eating chivalry from the south. 
While less obnoxious at first, the last named proved more persistently objec 
tionable, for the angularities of the others soon wore off in the contact with 
their varied neighbors, partly with the educated youths from New England. 
Low s Stat., MS., 7; FindlasStat., MS., 9; Fay s Facts, MS., 19. 

6 In catering for others, or making the most of their own moderate means. 
Les plus pauvres, exclaims Saint Amant, Cal., 487, on comparing their back 
ward condition with that of the adaptive Americans. 

7 They were slow to take lessons from their inventive neighbors. A warn 
ing letter against the Chilians came from South American. Unbound Doc., 
327-8. Revere, Keel and Saddle, 160-1, commends their quickness for pros 
pecting, and their patiencs as diggers. Bosthwick s Gal, 311; Barry and Pat 
tens Men and Mem., 287 et seq.; Fishers Cals., 42-9; AUa Cal.. June 29, 1851. 

8 As will be seen later. 

All of which is fully considered in another volume of this work. 


Certain distinctiveness of dress and manner assisted 
the physical type in marking nationalties; but idiosyn 
crasies were less conspicuous here than in conventional 
circles, owing to the prevalence of the miner s garb- 
checked or woollen shirts, with a predominance of 
red and blue, open at the bosom, which could boast of 
shaggy robustness, or loosely secured by a kerchief; pan 
taloons half tucked into high and wrinkled boots, and 
belted at the waist, where bristled an arsenal of knife 
and pistols. Beard and hair, emancipated from thral 
dom, revelled in long and bushy tufts, which rather har 
monized with the slouched and dingy hat. Later, a 
species of foppery broke out in the flourishing towns; on 
Sundays particularly gay colors predominated. The 
gamblers, taking the lead, affected the Mexican style 
of dress: white shirt with diamond studs, or breast 
pin of native gold, chain of native golden speci 
mens, broad-brimmed hat with sometimes a feather or 
squirrel s tail under the band, top-boots, and a rich 
scarlet sash or silk handkerchief thrown over the 
shoulder or wound round the waist. San Francisco 
took early a step further. Traders and clerks drew 
forth their creased suits of civilization, till the shoot 
ing-jacket of the Briton, the universal black of the 
Yankee, the tapering cut of the Parisian, the stove 
pipe hat and stand-up collar of the professional, ap 
peared upon the street to rival or eclipse the prosti 
tute and cognate fraternity which at first monopolized 
elegance in drapery. 10 

Miners, however, made a resolute stand against any 
approach to dandyism, as they termed the concomi 
tants of shaven face and white shirt, as antagonistic 
to their own foppery of rags and undress which at 
tended deified labor. Clean, white, soft hands were 
an abomination, for such were the gambler s and the 
preacher s, not to speak of worshipful femininity. But 
horny were the honest miner s hands, whose one only 

18 Fay s Facts, MS., 10. Placer Times, Oct. 27, 1849, and contemporaries, 
warn their readers against such imitation of foppery. 


soft touch was the revolver s trigger. A store-keeper 
in the mines was a necessary evil, a cross between a 
cattle-thief and a constable; if a fair trader, free to 
give credit, and popular, he was quite respectable, more 
so than the saloon-keeper or the loafer, but let him 
not aspire to the dignity of digger. 11 

Nor was the conceit illusive; for the finest speci 
mens of manhood unfolded in these rugged forms, some 
stanch and broad-shouldered, some gaunt and wiry; 
their bronzed, hairy features weather bleached and 
furrowed, their deep rolling voices laden with oaths, 
though each ejaculation was tempered by the frankness 
and humor of the twinkling eye. All this dissolution of 
old conventionalities and adoption of new forms, which 
was really the creation of an original type, was merely 
a part of the overflowing sarcasm and fun started by 
the dissolution of prejudice and the liberation of 

A marked trait of the Californians was exuberance 
in work and play, in enterprise or pastime an exuber 
ance full of vigor. To reach this country was in itself 
a task which implied energy, self-reliance, self-denial, 
and similar qualities; but moderation was not a virtue 
consonant with the new environment. The climate 
was stimulating. Man breathed quicker and moved 
faster; the very windmills whirled here with a velocity 
that would make a Hollander s head swim. And so 
like boys escaped from school, from supervision, the 
adventurer yielded to the impulse, and allowed the 
spirit within him to run riot. The excitement, more 
over, brought out the latent strength hitherto confined 
by lack of opportunity and conventional rules. Chances 
presented themselves in different directions to vaulting 
ambition. Thrown upon his own resources midst 

11 The supposed well-filled pockets of the miner and his ever-present 
loaded revolver made him an object of respect. Their most allowable ap 
proach to gay display was in the Mexican muleteer or caballero attire, not 
omitting the gay sash and jingling spurs. Kips Sketches, 18-19; S. F. Dir., 
1852, 12-13; Overland, Sept. 1871, 221 Bosthwick s CaL, 56. 


strange surroundings, with quickened observation and 
thought, the enterprising new-comer cast aside tradi 
tional caution, and launched into the current of specu 
lation; for everything seemed to promise success 
whatever course might be pursued, so abnormal were 
the times and place which set at naught all calcula 
tions formulated by wisdom and precedent Amid 
the general free and magnificent disorder, recklessness 
had its votaries, which led to a wide-spread emphasis 
in language, 12 and to a full indulgence in exciting 
pastimes. All this, however, was but the bubble and 
spray of the river hurrying onward to a grander and 
calmer future. 

This frenzied haste, no less than the absence of 
families, denoted that the mania was for enrichment, 
with hopes rather of a speedy return to the old home 
than of building a new one. San Francisco and other 
towns remained under this idea, as well as temporary 
camps and dep6ts for the gold-fields, whither went not 
only diggers, but in their wake a vast following of 
traders, purveyors, gamblers, and other ravenous non- 
producers to absorb substance. 

The struggle for wealth, however, untarnished by 
sordidness, stood redeemed by a whole-souled liberal 
ity, even though the origin of this ideal Californian 
trait, like many another virtue, may be traced to less 
noble sources; here partly to the desire to cover up 
the main stimulant greed; partly to the prodigality 
bred by easy acquisition; 13 partly to the absence of 
restraining family cares. Even traders scorned to 
haggle. A half-dollar was the smallest coin that 
could be tendered for any service, arid many hesitated 
to offer a quarter for the smallest article. Every 
thing proceeded on a grand scale ; even boot-blacking 
assumed big proportions, with neatly fitted recesses, 

12 For specimens, I refer to Cremony s Apache, 345. 

13 It was manifested in social intercourse, also in charity, which in these 
early days found worthy objects among the suffering immigrants, as related 
under the Overland Journey. Garniss, Early Days, MS., 19, instances the 
liberality to stricken individuals^ for which the wide-spread opulence gave 
less occasion. 


cushioned chairs, and a supply of entertaining journals. 
Wages rose to a dollar an hour for laborers, and to 
twelve and twenty dollars a day for artisans. 14 With 
them was raised the dignity of labor, sanctified by the 
application of all classes, by the independence of min 
ing life, and by the worshipful results gold. 

A natural consequence was the levelling of rank, a 
democratic equalization hitherto unapproached, and 
shattering the conservative notions more or less preva 
lent. The primary range of classes was not so varied 
as in the older countries; for the rich and powerful 
would not come to toil, and the very poor could not 
well gain the distant land; but where riches lay so 
near the reach of all, their accumulation conferred less 
advantage. Aptitude was the esteemed and distin 
guishing trait. The aspiring man could break away 
from drudgery at home, and here find many an open 
field with independence The laborer might gain the 
footing of employer ; the clerk the position of principal ; 
while former doctors, lawyers, and army officers could 
be seen toiling for wages, even as waiters and shoe 
blacks. Thus were grades reversed, fitness to grasp 
opportunity giving the ascendency. 15 

The levelling process left indelible traces; yet from 
the first the mental reservation and consequent effort 
were made to rise above any enforced subjection. The 
idea of abasement was sometimes softened by the 
disguise of name, which served also for fugitives from 
misfortune or disgrace, while it flattered imitators of 
humble origin. This habit received wide acknowl 
edgment and application, especially in the mines, 

14 As "vill be considered under Industries. 

15 Even clergymen left an unappreciated calling to dig for gold. Wilky, in 
Home Missionm-y, xxii. 92. Little, Stat., MS., 11, instances in his service as 
porters, muleteers, etc., two doctors, two planters claiming to own estates, 
and a gentleman, whatever that may be. See also Cassin, Stat. , MS. , 5-6, 
who identified in a bootblack a well-known French journalist of prominent 
family. Count Raousset de Boulbon, of filibuster fame, who prided himself 
on royal blood, admits working as a wharf laborer. Master and slave from 
the southern states could be seen working and living together. But such 
instances are well known. No sensible man objected to manual labor, al 
though he hesitated at the menial grades. 


where nicknames became the rule, with a preference 
for abbreviated baptismal names, particularized by an 
epithet descriptive of the person, character, national 
ity; as Sandy Pete, Long-legged Jack, Dutchy. The 
cause here may be sought chiefly in the blunt unre 
strained good-fellowship of the camp, which banished 
all formality and superfluous courtesy. 16 

The requirements of mining life favored partnership ; 
and while few of the associations formed for the jour 
ney oat kept together, new unions were made for 
mutual aid in danger, sickness, and labor. Sacred like 
the marriage bonds, as illustrated by the softening of 
partner into the familiar pard, were the ties which oft 
united men vastly different in physique and tempera 
ment, the weak and strong, the lively and sedate, thus 
yoking themselves together. It presented the affinity 
of opposites, with the heroic possibilities of a Damon 
or Patroclus. 17 Those already connected with benevo 
lent societies sought out one another to revive them 
for the practice of charity, led by the Odd Fellows, 
who united as early as 1847. 18 

With manhood thus exalted rose the sense of duty 
and honor. Where legal redress was limited, owing 
to the absence of well-established government, reliance 
had to be placed mainly on individual faith. In 1848 
and 1849 locks and watchmen were little thought of, 
In the towns valuable goods lay freely exposed, or 
sheltered only by frail canvas structures; and in the 
camps tents stood unguarded throughout the day, with 
probably a tin pan full of gold-dust in open view upon 
the shelf. 19 The prevalent security was due less to 

16 Yet it required great intimacy to question even a comrade concerning 
his real name and former life. 

17 This applies of course rather to unions of two. Rules for larger asso 
ciations are reproduced in Skinns Mining Camps, 113; FarweWa Vig., MS., 5. 

18 An account of these and other orders will be given later. 

19 The frail nature of the early business houses in S. F. and elsewhere has 
been described. Wheaton instances a crockery shop on the border of the 
Sydney convict settlement, where a notice invited purchasers to select their 
goods and leave the money in a plate, the proprietor being engaged elsewhere. 
Stot., MS., 3-4. Coleman relates that a gold watch was picked up near his 


the absence of bad men for reckless adventurers had 
long been pouring in, as instanced by the character 
and conduct of many of the disbanded New York 
volunteers than to the readiness with which gold and 
wages could be gained, and to the armed and deter 
mined attitude of the people. Soon came a change, 
however, with the greater influx of obnoxious ele 
ments; and the leaden reality of hard work dissipated 
the former visions of broad-cast gold. Fugitives from 
trouble and dishonor had been lured to California, 
graceless scions of respectable families, and never-do- 
wells, men of wavering virtue and frail piety, withering 
before temptation and sham-haters, turned to swell the 
army of knaves. 20 Bolder ruffians took the initiative 
and banded to raid systematically, especially on con 
voys from the mines. So depraved became their 
recklessness that sweeping conflagrations were planned 
for the plunder to be obtained, 21 while assassination 
followed as a matter of course. But murder was lit 
tle thought of as compared with the heinous crime of 
theft. Disregard for life was fostered by an excitable 
temperament, the frequency of drunken brawls, the 
universal habit of carrying weapons, and the nomadic 
and isolated position of individuals, remote from 

camp and left suspended on a tree for a fortnight, undisturbed till the owner 
returned to claim it. Viy., MS., 2. Most pioneers unite in extolling the 
security prevalent in those days. Property was safer in California than in 
the older states. Delano s Life, 359. Gov. Mason wrote nearly to the sa me 
effect in Oct. 1848. U. S. Gov. Doc., Cong. 31, Sess. 1, H. Ex. Doc. 17, p. 677; 
Burnett s Rec., MS., ii. 142-3; Brooks Four Mo., 67. In previous chapters 
has been shown the extent of crime in 1848, as instanced in the Calif ornian, Feb. 
2, 1848; Cat. S ar, Feb. 26; Star and Cal., Dec. 9, 1848, etc. See further, for 
both years, Winans Stat., MS., 14-16; Olney s Viy., MS., 1; Neall s Stat., 
MS., 3-5; Buttons Stat., MS., 10; Sac. Transcript, Apr. 26, 1850, etc.; Fay s 
Facts, MS., 2; Gillespie s Vig., MS., 5; Friend, vii. 74; Littles Stat., MS., 16; 
Findlas Stat., MS., 6; McCollum s Cal., 62; Staples Stat., MS., 14; Cal. Past 
and Pres., 162-3. 

20 Say ward, Pion. Rem., MS., 32-3, states that after the Missourians began 
to come, insecurity increased. In 1850 things had reached such a pass that 
mail agents were afraid to carry gold, lest they should be murdered. Woods 
Sixteen Mo., 141; Crosbys Stat., MS., 41-2. Helper, Land of Gold, 36-8, 
paints the criminal aspect in dark colors; Cox s An. Trinity Co., 62-3. Bar- 
stow, Stat., MS., 10, points to the Irish as the rowdy element. Chamber Iain s 
Stat., MS., 1; Say ward s Rem., MS., 33. 

21 Brooks, Four Mo., 142-3, 168-9, 187-8, 201, refers to several bands, as 
do Burnett and others. For criminal records, I refer to my Popular Tribunals, 
and for cognate data to a later chapter on the administration of justice 


friends who might inquire into their disappearance. 
An armed man was supposed to take care of himself. 22 
The lack of judicial authorities tended further to pro 
mote the personal avenging of wrongs by duel, 23 
which took place frequently by public announcement. 
In the northern and central mining districts the 
preponderance of sedate yet resolute Americans with 
a ready recourse to lynching inspired a wholesome 
awe ; but along the San Joaquin tributaries, abounding 
with less sober-minded Sonorans and Hispano- Ameri 
cans, this restraint diminished, 24 the more so as race 
animosity was becoming rampant. Swift and radical 
penalties alone were necessary in the interior, on 
account of lack of prisons; and even San Francisco 
found these measures indispensable in 1851, despite 
her accessories of police and chain-gangs. 25 The ever- 
moving and fluctuating current of life proved a shield 
to evil-doers, and fostered the roaming instinct which 
had driven so many westward, and was breeding per 
nicious habits of vagrancy and loafing. 26 Every camp 
had its bully, who openly boasted of prowess against 
Indians, as well as of his white targets, and flaunted 
an intimidating braggardism. Likewise every town 
possessed its sharpers, on the watch for gold-laden 
and confiding miners. 

22 Helper, Land of Gold, 29, 158, estimates in 1854 that since the opening 
of the mines Cal. had invested upwards of six millions of dollars in bowie- 
knives and pistols. The same fertile inquirer finds for this period 4,200 
murders and 1,400 suicides, besides 10,000 more of miserable deaths. For 
early years no reliable records exist in this direction, but those for the more 
settled year of 1855 show 538 deaths by violence, whereof two thirds were 
white persons, the rest Indians and Chinese. Further data in a later chapter. 

23 Revolvers were the most ready instruments. A common practice for 
principals was to place themselves back to back, march five paces, turn and 
are till the pistol chambers were emptied or the men disabled. Shooting on 
sight was in vogue, involving no little danger to passers-by. I mistook you 
for another," was more than once the excuse to some innocent victim. Olney s 
Vig., MS.. 3; HittelVs Res., 377; Atta Cal, July 3, 1851, and other numbers. 
See also Du Hailly, in Revue deux Mondes, Feb. 1859, 612; Truman s Field oj 
Honor, and my Inter Pocula and Pop. Tribunals. 

"Placer Times, July 20, 1849. 

2b Steps were taken in 1850 to prevent the entry of convicts, Cal. Statutes, 
1850, 202, yet many succeeded in landing. Alia Gal, May 10, July 15-16, 

26 As complained of already in 1850. Pac. News, Jan. 5, 1850. 


Much of the growing crime took root during the 
wet winter of 1849-50, which brought starvation 
and sickness to the inaccessible camps. Ill health 
was wide-spread, and more lamentable owing to the 
isolation of sufferers, devoid of friends and means, and 
remote from doctors and medicine. The seed of dis 
ease was frequently laid during the voyage out, in the 
unwholesome food and atmosphere of crowded vessels. 
Then came new climates and surroundings, unusual 
and exhausting labor, standing in water or on moist 
ground under a broiling sun, the insufficient shelter of 
tents or sheds, beds made upon the damp soil, poor 
and scanty provisions, excitement and dissipation. 
All this could not fail to affect most of the inexperi 
enced new-comers, especially with fever, bowel com 
plaint, and rheumatism; while scurvy, cutaneous, 
syphilitic, and pulmonary diseases, claimed their vic 
tims. 27 In October 1850 came the cholera; and al 
though disappearing with the year, it is supposed to 
have carried off fifteen per cent of the population at 
Sacramento, and about half that proportion westward, 28 
besides frightening away a large number. The strain 
of excitement, with attendant disappointments and 
windfalls, predisposed to insanity, while lowering the 

27 The report from the state marine hospital at S. F. shows the proportion 
of 262 diarrhoea cases, 204 dy sentry, 113 acute rheumatism, 93 intermittent 
fever, 47 chronic rheumatism, 46 scurvy, 40 gonorrhea, 37 typhus, 29 pythisis, 
28 bronchitis, 26 pneumonia, among 1,200 patients. Cal. Jour. Sen., 1851, 
921-3. Diarrhoea killed 10 out of a party of 19 on Trinity River. Pac. News, 
May 9, 1 850. Dysentery was equally common, with ulcerated bowels. Daws 
Viy., MS., 2; Unbound Doc., MS., 20; Barstow s Stat., MS., 2-3, 12; Larkins 
Doc., vi. 172, 175. Destitution and death by starvation is mentioned in Pac. 
News, Dec. 13, 1849; Oarniss Early Days, MS., 11. A remedy for scurvy 
was to bury the patient in earth, all but the head. Whole camps were some 
times buried at once, except a few who remained out to keep off the grizzlys 
and coyotes. Sawtelles Pioneers, MS., 5; Morse s Stat., MS. 

28 At San Jose ten per cent, at S. F. five. Burnett s Rec. t MS., ii. 241. It 
caused a rush of passengers by the Panama steamer. Some died on board, 
but within a week the pest disappeared. Crary s Vi>j., MS., 1. It raged in 
Ophir, etc. Pac. News, Nov. 1, 1850; Cal. Courier, Oct. 24, Dec. 21, 1850; 
S. F. Picayune, Oct. 23, 25, Nov. 4, 6, Dec. 5, 1850. Judge Hoffman suc 
cumbed. A cholera hospital was opened at S. F., on Broadway. S. F. Direc 
tory, 1852, 17; Ver Mehrs Life, 367; Sac. Transcript, Oct. 14, 1850, says it 
broke out at S. F.; Polynesian, vii. 98, 110, 114, 118, 138; Shuck s Revres. Men, 
936. It reappeared in 1852. 


and mental tone. 29 The lack of remedial 
facilities in the mining camps directed a stream of in 
valids to the towns, especially to San Francisco, despite 
its unfavorable winds and moisture. There were also 
constantly left stranded new-comers, reduced by Pan 
ama fevers and the hardships attending badly fitted 
vessels, made desperate by destitution and suffering, 
from which only too many sought escape by suicide. 30 
Little ceremony attended the burial of these unfortu 
nates in the cities, but in the mines a procession of 
miners usually attended to consign a comrade, often 
shroudless and uncoffined, to a shallow grave. 31 The 
high cost of treatment by doctors and at private hos 
pitals, with over-crowding and neglect in the public 
wards, tended to keep the death-rate high during the 
first two years of the mining era. 32 

Obviously in a community of men the few women 
present were very conspicuous. There were whole 
groups of camps which could be searched in vain for 
the presence of a single woman, and where one was 
found she proved too often only the fallen image, the 
center of gyrating revelry and discord. 33 In San 

29 In 1850 twelve persons were cast upon the care of S. F., with an increase 
to three times that number by 1852, and legislative steps were taken to pro 
vide for the afflicted, at first in a brig anchored at North Beach. Cal Jour. 
Ho., 1850, 1341; Cal Polit. Code, 297-306; Fernandez, Cal, 189; Mines and 
Miners, 795-6; S. F. Herald, Sept. 30, 1851. 

3y By the close of 1854 the suicides were estimated at 1,400. Helper s Land 
of Gold, 29. Some went to the Hawaiian Islands. 

31 At S. F. pauper burials were contracted for in 1850 at the reduced rate 
of $35, formerly $50 to $100. S. F. Minutes, 1849-50, 68, 79-82, etc. ; Garmss 1 
Early Days, MS., 10; Wheatons Stat., MS., 2. Mr Gray came from New 
York in 1850, as a professional undertaker. Pac. News, May 1, 1850; S. F. A Ita, 
June 11, 1853; Feb. 26, 1863; Polynesian, vi. 110; Hatchings Mag., iii. 133, 
252. The interments at S. F. prior to 1850 are estimated at 970 . For the 
year ending July 1851, when cholera raged, they rose to 1,475, then fell to 
1,005, rising again to 1,575, with a proportionate decline after July 1853. 
Annals S. F., 593-6. 

32 Hospitals are spoken of under Sac. and S. F. annals. A board of health 
was organized in 1850; also a medical society, June 22d. Pac. News, May 18, 
Dec. 14, 1850; Cal. Courier, Oct. 23-4, 1850. The fee-bill of the latter ranged 
from an ounce, $16, the lowest price, upward; visits were rated at $32; ad 
vice and operations were specified as high as $1,000. Miscel Stat., MS., 3-4; 
Armstrong s Exper., MS , 9. 

33 The place of women at dances would be taken by men. In 1850 more 
women began to come in, although composed largely of loose elements. Num- 


Francisco and other large towns, families began to 
settle, yet for a long time the disreputable ele 
ment outshone the virtuous by loudness in dress 
and manner, especially in public resorts. In the 
scarcity men assumed the heroic, and women became 
worshipful. The few present wore an Aphrodite 
girdle, which shed a glamour over imperfections, till 
they found themse]ves divinities, centres of chivalric 
adorers. In the mining region men would travel from 
afar for a glance at a newly arrived female, or handle 
in mock or real ecstasy some fragment of female ap 
parel. 34 Even in the cities passers-by would turn to 
salute a female stranger, 35 while the appearance of a 
little girl would be heralded like that of an angel, 
many a rugged fellow bending with tears of recollec- 

bers from the east, observes Barstow, Stat., MS., 4. The preponderance in 
this class lay, however, with Hispano- Americans, not excepting Californians, 
says Cerruti, Ramblings, MS., 50. Hundreds were brought from Mazatlan 
and San Bias on trust, and transferred to bidders with whom the girls shared 
their earnings. Fernandez, CaL, 190-1. The Peruvians were sought for danc 
ing-saloons. Australia sent many. Polynesian, vii. 34. French women were 
brought out to preside at gambling-tables. Nine hundred of the French demi 
monde are expected, announces the Pac. News, Oct. 23, 1850, to reside on 
Stockton and Filbert sts. The number dwindled to 50. Sac. Transcript, Nov. 
29, 1850. Indian women were freely offered at the camps, and the number 
was increased by kidnapped females from the Marquesas Islands. See outcry 
on this point in Alia CaL, Dec. 21, 24, 1850. One noted prostitute claimed 
to have earned $50,000. Oarniss Early Days, MS., 7. For first published 
case of adultery in 1849 at S. F., see Richardsons Exper., MS., 27; also 
Miscel. Stat., MS., 2; Hayes 1 Scraps, CaL Notes, v. 60, etc. The Home Mis 
sionary, xxii- 163-7, xxvii. 159, intimates that half the women in S. F. were 
of the loose element. Boltonvs. U. S., 99-101; Velasco, Son., 325. The CaL 
Courier, Oct. 21-2, Nov. 16, 1850, inveighs against the demi-monde, while 
the Alta CaL, Dec. 19, 1850, commends the improved morals. So does S. F. 
Picayune, Sept. 27, 1850, although it admits that even the higher classes were 
dissolute. Armstrong, Exper., MS., 12, speaks of the personation of women 
and the sale of a wife. In Oct. 1849 there were not over 50 U. S. women in 
S. F., says McCollum, CaL, 61. 

34 A story is told of the excitement over the discovery of a bonnet, attended 
by a dance around it, hoisted upon a May -pole. Some add a stuffed figure 
to the bonnet, and put a cradle by its side. Winans Stat., MS., 17; Letts 
CaL lllusl., 89-90. An acquaintance of Burnett, Rec., MS., ii. 38-9, related 
that he travelled 40 miles to behold a woman. Steamboat agents would cry 
out, Ladies on board ! to draw custom. Gamblers and proprietors of public 
resorts used to board vessels to offer flattering engagements; but even then 
women were soon married. Concerning claims to being female pioneers in 
different counties, see SanJos6 Pioneer, July 7, 1877, etc.; S. F. Bulletin, 
May 5, Aug. 11, 1876, etc.; Record-Union, May 4, 1876, etc. 

30 The attention often made modest women uncomfortable, while others 
encouraged it by extravagant conduct. Loose characters flaunted costly attire 
in elegant equipages, or appeared walking or riding in male attire. Farn- 
hanis CaL, 22-3; Barry and Patten, Men and Mem., 138-9. 


tion to give her a kiss and press a golden ounce into 
her hand. The effects of these tender sentiments re 
mained rooted in the hearts of Californians long after 
the romance age, 36 the only mellow trait with many a 
one, the only thing sacred being some base imitation 
of the divine image. 

As modest virtue regained the ascendency with the 
increase of families, indecency retreated, to be sought 
in the shadow by the men of all classes who, during 
the earlier absence of social restraint, hesitated not to 
walk the street beside a prostitute, or yield to the al 
lurement of debased female company midst surround 
ings far more comfortable and elegant than their own 
solitary chambers. 37 With the subordination to some 
extent of the grand passion, gambling and other dissi 
pations received a check, and higher pastimes and the 
home circle rose in favor. As any semblance of a 
woman could be almost sure of speedy marriage, in 
tending settlers hastened to bring out female friends 
and relatives; benevolent persons sought to relieve the 
surplus market at home, 38 and successful men recalled 
some acquaintance in their native village with whom 

36 It was for a long time difficult to find a jury which would convict a 

37 Balls were frequently attended at these places by public men of promi 
nence, where decorum prevailed, and champagne at high prices was made to 
pay the cost of supper. 

38 Mrs Farnham issued a circular in N. Y., Feb. 1849, offering to take out 
a number of respectable women, not over 25 years of age, each to contribute 
$250 for expenses. Mrs F. fell sick, and the enterprise was left in abeyance. 
Farnham s Col., 25-7. Subsequently she did bring out a number, adds Clark, 
Stat., MS., 1-2; Revue Deux Mondes, Feb. 15, 1859, 948-9. A similar futile 
Parisian enterprise had in view a share of the marriage portion. Pac. News, 
Nov. 11,1850. Advertisements for wives were not uncommon. InSawtcllc s 
Pioneers, MS., 10, is related the repeated contests for and frequent marriage 
of a Mexican widow. Placer Times, Dec. 15, 1849, boasts of a wedding at 
tended by 20 ladies, and the display of dress-coats and kid gloves. A mer 
cenary fellow of Shasta advertised admission to his wedding at $5 a ticket, 
which brought a snug sum with which to start the household. Hutchings Mag., 
ii. 567; Cal. Steamer, 25th Anniv., 50-1; Pac. News, Nov. 4, 11, 1850. Adver 
tisement for 200 Chilian brides, in Polynesian, v. 202. It is said that Burnett 
owed his election for governor greatly to being married and having two 
daughters; his opponent was a bachelor. Hall s Hist., 204; Woods $ixteen Mo. , 
75; Pioneer Mag., ii. 80; Hesperian, ii. 10, 494; Shinns Mining Camps, 137; 
Fremont s Am-. Travel, 100-3, 112. A writer in Overland, xiv. 327, denies 
the rarity of and stir caused by women, but on insufficient grounds. Merrill s 
Stat., MS., 10; Souk s Stat., MS., 4. 


to open correspondence with a view to matrimony. 
As a class, the women of this period were inferior in 
education and manners to the men; for the hardships 
of the voyage and border life held back the more re 
fined; but as comforts increased the better class of 
women came in, 39 and the standard of female respecta 
bility was elevated. 

Distance did not seem to weaken the bond with the 
old home, 40 to judge especially by the general excite 
ment created by the arrival of a mail steamer. What 
a straining of eyes toward the signal-station on Tele- 
hill, as the time of her coming drew nigh! 

liat a rush toward the landing ! What a struggle 
to secure the month-old newspaper, which sold readily 
for a dollar I For letters patience had to be curbed, 
owing to the scanty provisions at the post-office for 
sorting the bulky mail Such was the anxiety, how 
ever, that numbers took their position in the long line 
before the delivery window during the preceding day or 
night, fortified with stools and creature comforts. There 
were boys and men who made a business of taking a 
place in the post-office line to sell it to later comers, 
who would find the file probably extending round 
more than one block. There was ample time for re 
flection while thus waiting before the post-office win 
dow, not to mention the agony of suspense, heightened 
by the occasional demonstration of joy or sorrow on 
the part of others on reading their letters. 41 

The departure of a steamer presented scenes hardly 
less stirring, the mercantile class being especially 
earnest in efforts to collect outstanding debts for re 
mittance. At the wharf stood preeminent sturdy 

39 And diminished the number of California widows left in almost every 
town of the eastern states; many of them pining and struggling against pov 
erty for years in the vain hope of meeting again their husbands. 

40 As proved, indeed, by later incidents, the war of 1861-5, the railway 
connection, etc. 

41 lhe scene at the post-office is a favorite topic with writers on this 
period. Instance McCoUums Gal, 62-3; Casern s Stat., MS., 16-17; Kelly s 
Excurs., ii. 252-5, with humorous strokes; Borthwick s Cal., 83-5; Gal. Scraps, 
126-7; AUa Cal, Aug. 28, 1854, etc. 


miners girdled with well-filled belts, their complacent 
faces turned eastward. Old Californians they boasted 
themselves, though counting, perhaps, less than a half- 
year sojourn ; many strutting in their coarse and soiled 
camp attire, glorying in their rags like Antisthenes, 
through the holes of whose clothes Socrates saw such 
rank pride peering. Conspicuous by contrast were 
many haggard and dejected faces, stamped by broken 
constitutions, soured by disappointment. Others no 
less unhappy, without even the means to follow them, 
were left behind, stranded; with hope fled, and having 
relinquished the struggle to sink perhaps into the out 
cast s grave. 

Housekeeping in these days, even in the cities, was 
attended by many discomforts. The difficulty of ob 
taining female servants, which prevailed even in later 
years, gave rise to the phenomenon of male house-ser 
vants, first in Irish, French, or Italian, and later in Chi 
nese form. Fleas, rats, and other vermin abounded; 42 
laundry expenses often exceeded the price of new 
underwear; 43 water and other conveniences were lack 
ing, 44 and dwelling accommodations most deficient, the 
flimsy cloth partitions in hotels forbidding privacy. 45 

For the unmarried men any hovel answered the 
purpose, fitted as they were for privation by the hard 
ships of a sea voyage or a transcontinental journey. 

42 The city swarmed with rats of enormous size. Poison being freely 
scattered to exterminate them, they were driven by pain to the wells, which 
thus became unfit for use. Torres, Perip., 109. Barry and Patten, Men and 
Mem., 91-2, allude to the species of rats brought by vessels from different 
countries, notably the white, pink-eyed rice rat from Batavia. Wilmington 
Enterprise, Jan. 21, 1875. 

43 So that soiled shirts were frequently thrown away. Mrs Tibbey, in 
Miscel Stat., MS., 20. The largest laundry nourished at Washerwoman s 
lagoon, at the western foot of Russian hill. Much linen was sent to Canton 
and -the Hawaiian Islands to be washed. 

44 Ver Mehr credits Gillespie with the first carriage in S. F. Mrs Fremont 
claims it for herself. Am. Travel, 118. Posterity may let them both have it, 
and lose nothing. "Water was at one time brought from Sauzalito in boats 
and distributed by carts; some wells were then dug, the carts continuing the 

4!) These disturbing causes tended to the breaking up of homes, as instanced 
by desertion and divorce petitions in 1849-50. Pac. News, Dec. 22, 1849; Jan. 
15, 1850; PlacervilleDemoc., Apr. 24, 1875, etc. 


The bunk-lined room of the ordinary lodging-house, 46 
the wooden shed, or canvas tent, could hardly have 
been more uncomfortable than the foul-smelling and 
musty ship hold. Thus the high price prevalent for 
board and lodging, as well as the discomforts attend 
ing housekeeping and home life, tended to heighten 
the allurements of vice-breeding resorts. 

Californians have acquired an unenviable reputation 
by reason of their bar-room drinking propensities. At 
first this was attributed to the lack of homes and 
higher recreations: but the increase of drinking- 

O 7 O 

saloons and wide-spread indulgence point for explana 
tion to other causes, such as temperament, excitement, 
strain, and some have said climate. 47 The tendency 
is cognate with the exuberance of the people, with 
their lavishness and characteristic tendency toward 
excess, which has also fostered the habit of not drink 
ing alone. Solitary tippling is universally stamped 
as mean; and rather than incur such a stigma the 
bar-keeper must be invited. Yet the excess is mani 
fested less in actual inebriety than in frequent indul 
gence at all hours of the day and night, which with 
the vile adulterations often used, succeeds effectu 
ally in killing, or undermining the constitution and 
morals of thousands. In early days the subtle attrac 
tion was increased by contrast between a dismal lodg 
ing and the bright interior of the saloon, with its 
glittering chandeliers, costly mirrors wreathed with 
inspiring banners, striking and lascivious paintings, 
inviting array of decanters, perhaps music and sirens, 
some luring with song and dance, some by a more 
direct appeal. 48 Until far into 1850, when San Fran 
cisco introduced street lamps, the reflection from these 
illuminated hot-beds of vice was about all the light 

46 As described elsewhere in connection with dwellings and hotels. 

47 The climatic excuse was general as early as 1849. Moore s Pio. Exper. t 
MS., 7. 

48 In Sacramento a number of saloon-keepers combined to save the expense 
of music, but failed. Sac. Transcript, Oct. 14, 1850. 


the city had, the canvas houses glowing with special 
effect upon the muddy streets, or throwing their weird 
light far out into the waters of the bay. In the 
saloons of the mining towns comfortable chairs and 
the central stove presented the only relief to a dingy 
interior, with its card-table, cheap pictures, well- 
stocked bar, and ever-thirsty hangers-on. The pro 
prietor, however, was often a host in himself, as local 
dignitary, umpire, and news repository; the hail fellow 
and confidant of everybody, who cared for the wounded 
and fallen after the knife or pistol skirmish ; himself, 
perhaps, safe behind his sand-bag fortification. The 
casualties were particularly heavy after an occasional 
dearth of whiskey, from interrupted traffic during the 
winter. 49 Notwithstanding the forbidding aspect of 
the field, temperance advocates were present as early 
as 1849, vainly endeavoring to curb the passion by 
words. 50 

Public gambling flourished as a legally authorized 
vice at all saloons, yet its prevalence led in the cities 
to the establishment of special gambling-houses. 
Mining, being itself a chance occupation, gave here an 
additional impulse to the pastime, which some culti 
vated as a mental stimulant, others as an anaesthetic. 
With easy acquisition losses were less poignant. In 
San Francisco the plaza was the centre of these re 
sorts, with the El Dorado saloon as the dividing point 
between the low places to the north and the select 
clubs southward. 51 Gay flags and streamers and de 
coy lamps strike the eye from a distance; within a 
blaze of light reveals a moving silhouette of figures. 

49 It can readily be understood that such general devotion to the cause 
must have brought forth many innovations and inventions in the range of 
drinks. For instances, I refer to Overland, July 1875, 80-1; May 1874, 477; 
Aug. 1868, 146; Helper s Land of Gold, 66. Also, Saxons Five Years, 26; 
Cat. Pilgrim, 54, 136; Maynes B. Col, 163; Cremonys Apache, 348. 

60 A meeting at S. F. is recorded in A Ua Cal, Jan. 25, 1849. At Sacra 
mento a society was formed in 1850. Sac. Illust., 13; Sac. Direct., 1871, 76; 
Pac. News, May 16, 21, Dec. 24, 1850. 

51 lhe leading resorts of 1849-50 embraced the Rendezvous, Bella Union, 
Verandah, Parker house (one floor in it), Aguila de Oro, Empire, the latter 
opened in May 1850, being 140 feet long, and finely frescoed. 


The abode of fortune seeks naturally to eclipse all 
other saloons in splendor; and indeed, the mirrors are 
larger, the paintings more costly, and the canvased 
walls adorned with brighter figures. At one end is 
the indispensable drinking-bar, at the other a gallery 
for the orchestra, from which loud if not harmonious 
music floats upon the murky atmosphere laden with 
fumes of smoke and foul breaths. 52 These and other 
attractions are employed to excite the senses, and 
break down all barriers before the strongest tempta 
tion, the piles of silver and gold in coin and dust, and 
glittering lumps which border the leather-covered 
gaming-tables, sometimes a dozen in number. From 
different directions is heard the cry, "Make your bets, 
gentlemen!" midst the hum and the chink of coin. 
"The game is made," and a hush of strained expect 
ancy attends the rolling ball or the turning cards; 
then a resumption of the murmur and the jingling, as 
the stakes are counted out or raked in by the croupier. 
Gamblers and spectators form several lines in depth 
round the tables; broadcloth, pea-jacket, and woollen 
shirt side by side, merchant and laborer, dandy and 
shoeblack, and even the whilom pastor or deacon of 
the church. Some moving from group to group are 
bent merely on watching faces and fickle fortune, till, 
seized by desire, they yield to the excitement and 
join in the infatuation. Once initiated, the slow game 
of calculation in money matters which has hitherto 
sufficed for pastime, falls before the stirring pulsation 
imparted by quickly alternating loss and gain. The 

IT / A v O 

chief games were faro, preferred by Americans and 
Britons; monte, beloved of the Latin race; 53 roulette, 

52 At the Aguila de Oro Ethiopian serenaders added to the attraction. An 
other boasted a Mexican quintette of guitars. The later Chinese resorts had 
symbols, etc. According to Torres, Penp., 99, a brother of Gen. Ben. Butler 
kept one of these places; expenses $500 a night, leaving large profits. The 
El Dorado kept a female violinist. Taylor s El Dorado, i. 118. 

63 For this game were used Spanish cards, 48 in a pack, the ten being lack 
ing. There were frequently two dealers at opposite ends of the table, each 
with a bank pile of $5,000 or $10,000. Ihe mere matching of two cards, 
sometimes four, the game being decided by the first similar card drawn 
from the pack, would seem to afford facilities for trickery, while certain con 
ditions ruled ia favor of the banker. 


rouge-et-noir, rondo, vingt-et-un, paire-ou-non, trente- 
et-quarante, and chuck-a-luck with dice. 54 The stakes 
ranged usually between fifty cents and five dollars, 
but rose frequently to $500 and $1,000, while amounts 
as high as $45,000 are spoken of as being risked upon 
the turn of a card. 55 The most reckless patrons were 
richly laden miners, who instead of pursuing their 
intended journey homeward, surrendered here their 
hard-earned wealth, and returned sadder, if not wiser, 
to fresh toils and hardships. The most impassive as 
well as constant gamblers were the Mexicans, who, 
otherwise so readily excited, could lose their all with 
out betraying an emotion; while sober-faced Ameri 
cans, who, though they might crack a grim joke over 
their misfortune, ill concealed their disappointment 
over losses. In the one case there was a fatalistic 
submission to the inevitable ; in the other the player 
would not yield his entire personality to the fickle 
goddess. Although in the mining camps were many 
honest gamblers, yet play there was oftentimes riot 
ous and attended by swindling, and a consequent 
appeal to weapons ; in the towns the system of licens 
ing what was then deemed an unavoidable evil tended 
to preserve decorum. 56 An air of respectability was 
further imparted by the appearance of the professional 

54 At the street corners were thimble-rig and other delusive guess games. 
The rent for a table was heavy, as may be judged from the fact that the 
greater part of the income from the Parker house, at one time $15,000 a 
month, came from the one gambling floor. Half of the gamblers used to pay 
$1,000 per month for a table, says McCollum. Cal., 61. 

55 A bag of dust, $16,000 in value, was one evening covered by a faro dealer 
without a murmur. Annals S. F,, 249 The editor of Placer Times, Mar. 9, 
1850, claims to have known of bets of $32,000 and $45,000 at monte. On one 
occasion the money in bank on monte tables exceeded $200,000, and more 
than that was at stake in other games. Home Missionary, xxvii. 160. Woods 
relates that a lawyer once swept three tables in succession. A young man 
just arrived, and en route to the mines, borrowed $10 and approached a faro- 
table. By the following morning he had won $7,000, with which he returned 
by next steamer, determined never to play again. Davidson, the banker, 
said that some professed gamblers used to remit home an average of $17,000 
a month. Sixteen Mo., 75. Among other instances of gains was one of $100,- 
000 by a man who started with $5,000. After losing half of his winnings he 
stopped, bought a steamer ticket, and went home. Placer Times, Mar. 9, 1850. 
The record of losses, however, is a thousand to one greater, hundreds of cases 
being cited where the miner en route for home staked his all and lost. 

66 At S. F. the permit cost $50 per month, with $25 extra for each Sunday. 


gamblers, who greatly affected dress, although with a 
predilection for display. With the growth of home 
influence the pastime began to fall into disrepute, and 
in September 1850 San Francisco took the first step 
toward its suppression by forbidding the practice on 
Sundays. 57 An insidious and long-countenanced ad 
junct to the vice flourished in the form of lotteries, which 
were carried on with frequent drawings, especially at 
holiday seasons, as a regular business, as well as a 
casual means for getting rid of worthless or unprofit 
able goods. Jewelry formed the main attraction, 
but articles of all classes were embraced, even land, 
wharves, and pretentious buildings. 58 

67 Cat. Courier, Sept. 14, 1850 Some of the hotels assisted by excluding 
its public practice, as the Union. S. F. Picayune, Nov. 26, 1850. Yet it was 
not till 1855 that absolute restrictive measures were taken. So far gambling 
debts were recoverable. Alta CaL, Apr. 17, 1855; Sac. Transcript, Feb. 14, 
1851. In Jan. 1848 an order to permit games of chance was vetoed in S. F. 
Calif ornian, Jan. 12, 1848; penalty $10 to $50, but a repeal came quickly. 
Sac. Union, May 21, 1856; Pac. News, Feb. 14, 1851, refers to the arrest of 

58 E. P. Jones held a real estate lottery in the autumn of 1850, with 4,000 
tickets at $100. The 500 lots offered as prizes embraced valuable central city 
land. In Oct. 1850 H. Howison sought to pay his debts and avoid a sacrifice 
of property by offering his wharf with 9 stores and 10 offices, renting for 
$5,000 a month, besides two water lots with a store-ship, for $200,000, in 
2,000 shares at $100. The prominent St Francis hotel was offered the same 
month. Pac. News, Oct. 19, Nov. 8, 13, 1850. A regular lottery firm was 
Tucker & Reeves. By advertisement in Cal. Courier, etc., of Dec. 17, 1850, 
$20,000 worth of jewelry was offered. Their usual first prize was a gold ingot 
of from $6,000 to $8,000 in value. In 1853 Reeves offered stuff valued at 
$30,000 at $1 tickets. In Sacramento the Pacific theatre and 99 other pieces 
of real estate were offered in 1850. These real estate and other raffles, as 
they were sometimes termed, encroached seriously on legitimate business 
The California Lottery and Hayes & Bailey figure in the 1850 list of lottery 
firms. See journals of Dec., any early year. Further references to gambling 
in Carson s Early Days, 29; Kelly s Excursion, ii. 245-7; Winans Stat., MS., 
5-6; Hittell s S. F., 235-7; Upham s Notes, 235-6; Helper s Land of Gold, 
71-3; Lambertie, Voy., 204-6; Coke s Ride, 355-7; Frignet, CaZ.,94, 117; Lett s 
CaL, 48-50; CaL Past and Present, 163; Neall s Vig., MS., 25-8; Garniss* 
Early Days, MS., 15-16; Bartlett s Stat., MS., 3, 14; Armstrong s Exper., 
MS., 8; Delano s Life, 289-90; Willey s Thirty Years, 39; McDaniels Early 
Days, 49-50; Farnham s CaL, 271-4; Roach s Stat., MS., 9; Button s Stat., MS., 
10; Cerruti s Ramblings, MS., 25-7; Hutchings Mag., i. 215; iii. 374; SchmiedelCs 
Stat., MS., 4; Cassins Stat., MS., 10-12; Merrill s Stat., MS., 9-10; Van 
Dyke s Stat., MS., 3; Miscel. Stat., MS., 13-14; Home Miss., xxiii. 209; 
Conway s Early Days, MS., 1-2; CaL Ilust., 44, 99, 130; CaL Pilgrim, 243; 
Overland, Nov. 1871; Feb. 1872; Shaw s Golden Dreams, 42; S. F. Herald, 
Apr. 7, 18.52; S. F. Bulletin, Sept. 15, 25, Dec. 4, 1856. The Mexicans called 
gamblers gremio de Virjan. Torres, Perip., 100. According to Sac. Direc 
tory, 1853-4, 6-7, two clergymen could be seen at the hells, one as dealer. 
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 16 


The taste for other pastimes rose little above the 
preceding, as might be expected from a community of 
men bent on adventure. The bull-fighting of pre-con- 
quest times found such favor, that, not content with the 
two arenas already existing at the mission, San Fran 
cisco constructed two more within her own limits. 59 
Here it flourished under official sanction throughout 
the fifties, 60 but invested with few of the attractions 
which have tended to maintain its popularity elsewhere, 
such as knightly matadores, pugnacious bulls, and a 
fashionable attendance. American women never took 
kindly to the butchery, California excelled in one 
feature, however, the spectacle of a fight between bull 
and bear, if the usually tame contest could be digni 
fied by that term. 61 In cock-fighting the new-comers 
had little to learn from the Mexicans, although with 
these the diversion stood under high patronage; but 
they could offer novelties in the form of regattas, and 
the less commendable prize-fighting, 62 and in horse and 
foot racing they soon carried off the honors. 63 

The great resort on Sundays and holidays was the 
mission, with its creek, gardens, and arenas, and its 
adjoining hills and marshes which offered for hunters an 
attractive field. The ride out was in itself an enjoy- 

59 One on Vallejo st, at the western foot of Telegraph hill; another amphi 
theatre was erected near Washington square. S. F Herald, Aug. 10, 1850; 
8. F. Directory, 1850, 126. 

60 8. F. Bulletin of Aug. 18, 1859, describes a fight. For scenes and inci 
dents, I refer to my California Pastoral. 

61 Bruin usually took a defensive attitude, with his attention riveted on 
the bull s nose. In fights between bears and dogs, the latter generally fell 
back shaken and squeezed. Pac. News, May 17-18, 1850; Sac. Transcript, 
Oct. 14, 1850; Barry and Patten s Men and Mem., 251. Even Marysville and 
other northern towns indulged in the sport. Kelly s Excurs., ii. 248-9. 

62 Several notable encounters took place before the great contests of Mor- 
rissey in 1852. Pac. News, Oct. 17, 1850; Gal Courier, Jan. 1, 4, Oct. 18, 28, 
1850; Dec. 13, 1849. 

63 Although not decisively until 1852, when Australian horses were intro 
duced, as related by A. A. Green of aldermanic fame, who claims the credit 
of constructing in 1850 the first regular track in S. F., between 20th and 24th 
streets, at the so-called Pavilion, the later Red house. In the interior, camps 
and towns pitted horses against one another. Foot-races by professionals 
were usually against time; amateurs often ran in the usual way. Califorman, 
Mar. 4, 15, 1848; Alta Cal, Mar. 25, Sept. 15, 1851. In Halts Hist., 232, 
is mentioned a race at S. Jose for $10,000, a man running against a Sonoma 


ment, notwithstanding the intervening and ofttimes 
wind-whipped sand hills, and on festive occasions the 
place was crowded. The lack of ready communication 
with the opposite shores of the bay confined the people 
to the peninsula for a time, only to render the more 
demonstrative the revelry called for by feast days and 
other joyous occasions, with volleys, crackers, illumina 
tions, and fanciful parades, with caricatures and squibs 
upon officials, followed by banquets and balls, the 
latter stimulated by the chilly evenings and frequent 
potations. 64 

The first public dramatic performances are claimed 
for the United States garrison at Sonoma in September 
1 847, and for an amateur company, chiefly Spanish Cal- 
ifornians, at San Francisco. 65 About the same time 
some of the New York volunteers gave minstrel en 
tertainments at Santa Barbara and Monterey. 66 The 
gold excitement diverted attention from the drama in 
1848, 67 but by the following year professionals from 
abroad had arrived to supply the reviving demand, 
and on June 22, 1849, Stephen C. Massett opened a 
series of entertainments with a concert at the plaza 
school-house, including songs, recitations, and mimicry, 
with piano accompaniment. 68 On October 29th, Howe s 

64 A masquerade ball of Feb. 22, 1845, is described in the Catifornzan. 
Admission to some of the balls of 1849-50 was $25, and more. Placer Times, 
Apr. 22, 1850. The pioneers held a formal new-year s celebration in 1851. 
July 4th always received its fiery ovation, partly by the use of half -buried 
quicksilver flasks. St Patrick s day and May day were early introduced by 
the Irish and Germans. The thanksgiving day of 1849 was fixed for Nov. 29th 
without official proclamation, observes Williams, Stat,, MS,, 12-13. New 
England dinners found favor, and pilgrims 1 landing day touched a correspond 
ing chord. St Andrews and other societies added their special days. Roach s 
Stat. t MS., 3; Pac. Neios, May 3, Nov. 6, 30, 1850; Jan. 11, Apr, 1, 1851; S. F. 
Picayune, Oct. 30, 1850, etc.; Col. Courier, Sept. 14, Nov. 27, Dec, 2, 1850; 
Jan. 3, Feb. 1, 1851; A Ita Col., passim. 

65 Which gave the Morayma, relating to the wars of Granada. See Cali- 
fornian, Oct, 6, 1847; May 10, Nov. 4, 1848; and my preceding vol., v. 667. 
The same journal alludes to the Eagle Olympic club association for plays and 
subscriptions for a theatre Polynesian, v. 111. 

^Details in S. Jose Pioneer, May 4, 1878. A writer in Solano Press, Dec. 
11, 1867, declares that they first performed at S. F. in March 1847, the first 
night s receipts being $63. 

67 The Virginia minstrels played with success during the winter, Star and 
CaL, Dec. 9, 1848, and other amateur efforts may be traced 

68 Admission $3, which yielded over $500. The crowded audience contained 


Olympic circus appeared at San Francisco, 69 with 
prices at two and three dollars. 

The first professional dramatic performance took 
place at Sacramento on October 18, 1849, in the Eagle 
theatre, 70 a frail structure which was soon eclipsed 
by the Tehama. At San Francisco the season began 
at Washington hall, early in 185Q. 71 Five weeks 
later the first theatre building, the National, was 
opened, 72 followed among others by Robinson and 
Everard s Dramatic Museum, 73 Dr Collyer s Athe 
naeum, with prurient model artist exhibitions, 74 and 

only four women. Programme reproduced in Annals S. P., 656; Upham s 
Notes, 271-2. The piano is here claimed as the only one in the country, but 
a writer in S. Jost Pwn., Dec. 1, 1877, shows by letters that four pianos 
were at S. F, early in 1847, besides the common guitars and harps. Territ. 
Pioneers, First An., 75. 

69 On Kearny st south of Clay st. Boxes cost $10. The performances 
began at 7 P. M , and embraced the usual circus features, as given in Alta 
Col. of following day. This the first play bill is reproduced in Id., Oct. 29, 
1864. The circiis closed Jan. 17, 1850, to reopen as an amphitheatre on Feb. 
4th, with drama, farce, and ring performance. The Annals S. F., 236, calls 
it a tent holding 1,200 or 1,500 people, and places the prices at $3, $5, and 
$55. Previous to this, on Oct. 22d, says McCabe, in Territ. Pioneers, ubisup., 
the Philadelphia minstrela commenced a season at Bella Union hall, tickets 
$2, and in Dec. 1849 the Pacific minstrels prepared to play at Washington 
hall, but were prevented by fire. 

A frame 30 feet by 95 covered with canvas, metal-roofed, on Front st, 
between I and J st, which cost $75,000. Admission $2 and $3. The company 
embraced J. B. Atwater, C. B. Price, H. F. Daley, J. H. McCabe, H. Ray 
and wife, T. Fairchild, J. Harris, Lt A. W. Wright, whose salaries ranged 
from $60 per night for Atwater, to $60 per week for Daley. Mrs Ray, with 
husband, commanded $275 per week, including expenses. McCabe, in Ternt. 
Pioneers, First An., 72-5. The total nightly expense was $600. Bayard 
Taylor, Eldorado, ii 31-2, is rather severe on the performance. The season 
and theatre closed Jan. 4, 1850. The Bandit Chief is mentioned as the 
opening piece. The Tehama theatre opened soon after under management 
of Mrs Kirby, later Mrs Stark. Soc. Illust., 12-13; S. Jose Pioneer, Dec. 13, 
1877. The Pacific theatre is nearly completed, observes Placer Times, Apr. 
13, 1850. 

71 Jan. 16th, near N. w. corner of Kearny and Washington, by the Eagle 
theatre company of Sacramento, whence also this name for the hall, later 
Foley s. Pac. News, Jan. 17, 1850. Allen and Boland figure on the pro 
gramme, which presented The Wife, and the farce Sentinel; McCabe has 
Charles II. as an after-piece. Tickets $3. 

72 On the site of the latter Maguire s, Washington st. It was built of 
brick; opened by a French company, and burned May 4th. It was replaced 
by the Italian theatre, opened Sept. 12, 1850, at the corner of Jackson and 
Kearny sts, by a similar company. The short-lived Phoenix theatre was in 
augurated March 23d. The following day the Phoenix exchange, on the 
plaza, presented model artists. 

13 On the north side of California st, west of Kearny st, with partly 
amateur talent. Everard, known for his Yankee r6les, often assumed female 
garb. CassinsStat., MS., 16. 

7i Ou Commercial st; tickets $1. 


the famed Jenny Lind theatre, opened in October 
1850, on the plaza. 75 The resorts which had so far 
escaped were swept away by the conflagrations of 
May and June 1851, yet new edifices rose agrin with 
little delay. The flush times of a gold country brought 
many sterling actors, such as Stark, Atwater, Kirby, 
Bingham, Thorne Sr, who also made their bow at 
interior towns, 76 but inferior talent preponderated in 
the race for patronage, 77 the blood and thunder variety 
gaining favor, especially in the mining region, where 
the mere appearence of a woman, sufficed in early days 
to insure success. 8 The general effect of the drama 
was nevertheless good, partly from the moral lessons 
conveyed, but mainly as a diversion from gambling 
and drinking resorts. 79 By 1851 there was scarcely a 
town of 1,OOC inhabitants without its hall for enter 
tainments. Mere instrumental proficiency was not so 
widely appreciated, 80 but female vocalists with sym 
pathetic voices and stirring home melodies never failed 
to evoke applause which not unfrequently came at 
tended by a shower of oresents, 81 

t5 Which eventually after many transformations "became what is now 
known as the old city hall, and which, indeed, is the third Jenny Lind struc 
ture, the first having been burned on May 4, 1850, together with several 
ther resorts, and the second in June following. Mde Korsinsky from Na 
ples opened, the first on Oct. 28th, assisted by singers, magicians, etc. Adelphi 
and Foley s ainpliitheatre were inaugurated in Nov. and Dec., respectively, 
t*ie former on Clay st, the other on the plaza. The next important edifice 
was the American theatre on Sansome st, north of Sacramento st, which 
belongs to 1851, Vallejo hall was used for parties. 

76 Bingham inaugurated a season at Stockton, in the Stockton house, as 
sisted by Snow of Mormon fame. ZrCloskey, in S. Jose Pioneer, Dec. 13, 1877; 
Placer Times, Apr. 13, 1850. He abo opened the regulr.r season at Monterey. 
Monterey Herald, Feb. 13, 1875. Robinson did so at Nevada in June. Grass 

VaL Direct., 1856, 20-^30. 

77 In Dec. 1850 the museum reduced prices one half, although this had 
only a partial effect elsewhere. 

18 As Taylor, Eldorado, ii. 31-2, found even at Sacramento. A Swiss 
girl here collected $4,000 within six months. Organ grinders started their 
nuisance at S. F. in Apr. 1850. Pac, Neics, Apr. 30, 1850. A pioneer in the 
Oakland Transcript, Feb. 27, 1872, gives some leading names in the profession. 
Marry and Patten, Men and Mem., 213. 

J9 By ordinance of Sept 14, 1850, the city authorities sought to close even 
theatres on Sundays, but the attempt was not successful. Sherman, Mem., 
i. 23, refers to passion plays in connection wi^h churches. 

M To judge by the reception in 1C~0 of the pianist Herz, though highly 
praised by the Placer Times, Apr. 22, 1850, etc. Other concerts took place in 
Jan. and ApriL 

1 Gold pieces of $10, $20, and $50 in value came raining down, says Gar- 


Sunday became identified with enjoyment rather 
than solemn devotion. The voyage out had sufficed 
to break down puritanical habits. In the camps, 
after a week s arduous pursuit of gold, the day was 
welcomed for rest, yet not for repose. Mending 
clothes, washing, baking, and letter-writing occupied 
one part of it ; then came marketing with attendant 
conviviality, the harvest for traders, saloon-keepers, and 
their ilk. This routine, more or less prevalent also in 
the towns, left little leisure for the duties of religion, 
which for that matter were generally postponed for 
the return home. In the interior the necessary leaders 
were lacking, and the fear of ridicule from a rollicking- 
crowd restrained non-professional devotees. Among 
the multitudes of the cities, however, the clergyman 
was present, and could always count upon a number 
of sedate folk who in church attendance found refresh 
ing comfort. The influence of this class, embracing as 
it did employers and family men, aided by the mag 
netism of woman, succeeded by the middle of 1850 in 
establishing seven places of worship, and in extending 
Sabbath observance, in connection with which educa 
tion, literature, and art received a beneficent impulse. 82 

The admission of California into the union tended 
to stamp improvements with the strengthening tone of 
permanency. With unfolding resources and growing 

niss, Early Days, MS., 15, 81-9, although smaller pieces were more common. 
When Kate Hayes gave concerts in the winter of 1851, the first tickets 
at Sac. and S. F. sold for $1,200 and $1,125, respectively. Alia Cal. Feb. 9, 
1853. It was proposed to subscribe $500,000 for bringing hither Jenny 
Lind. Pac. News, Jan. 23, 1851. Lecturers fared well. J. S. Hittell ap 
peared as a phrenologist in Dec. 1850. Cat. Courier, Dec. 2, 1850. Additional 
references to amusements in Id., March 31, 1851. McCabe, Territ. Pioneers, 
First An., 75-8, adds some valuable details on early amusements. Pac. News, 
Oct. 1849-50, passim; Cal. Scraps, Amuse., 5, 253, etc.; Winans Stat., MS., 
13; BorthwlcVs Cal., 77, 289, 334, 357; Earll g Sfat., MS., 6; S. F. Post, Feb. 
10, 1S76; Sfa Cruz Sentinel, Feb. 20, 1875; Shaw s Golden Dreams, 203; Lloyd s 
Lijhte and Shades, 146-54. Torres, Perip , 145, comments on the means to 
supply the scarcity of actresses. Annals S. F., 655, etc.; 8. F. Chronicle, Sept. 
9, 1378. 

82 All of which will be considered in later chapters. In Nov. 1849 dray 
men, among others, resolved to abstain from Sunday work when possible. 
-Pac. News, Nov. 10, 1849. It took some years before the smaller towns 
cov.ld be made to adopt similar resolutions. See Calavera Chronicle, Feb. 


population came greater traffic, increased and varied 
supplies, * and new industries, comforts, and conven 
iences of every grade. 

The progression made by California during the first 
two years of the golden era is remarkable, not only for 
its individuality, but for its rapidity, and as being 
taken by a community of energetic and intelligent men, 
aided by the appliances of their age. The main con 
siderations for the present are the suddenness, magni 
tude, and mixed composition of the gathering, the 
predominating and marked influence of Americans 
from the first, and the peculiar features evolved there 
from, and in connection with the adventurous trip, the 
mania for enrichment, the general opulence, sex limita 
tion, camp life, and climate. Note especially the reck 
less self-reliance which braved hardship and dangers by 
sea and land, in solitude and amidst the mongrel crowd, 
and marked its advance by upturned valleys and ra 
vines; by the deviated course of rivers, the living evi 
dence of settlements and towns that sprang up in a 
day, or the mute eloquence of their ruins; by the 
transformed wilderness and the busy avenues of traffic ; 
by thronged roads and steam-furrowed rivers. Note 
the lusty exuberance which trod down obstacles and 
lightly treated reverses ; lightened work with the spirit 
of play, and carried play into extravagance, and all 
the while tempering avarice with a whole-souled lib 
erality Note the elevation of labor and equalization 
of ranks, which, rejecting empty pretensions and exalt 
ing honor and other principles, elevated into promi 
nence the best natural types of manhood, physical and 
mental, for the strain of life in the mines demanded a 
strong frame and constitution, and in other fields the 
prizes fell to the shrewd and energetic This wild 
game and gambol could not pass without deplorable 
excesses, but even these had a manly stamp. Vice 
was more prominent than general, however. Deceived 
by the all-absorbing loudness of its aspect and outcry, 
writers are led to exaggerate the extent. On the 


other hand, the sudden abundance of means exploded 
economic habits in general, and the prevalence of high 
prices and speculative ideas, together with the absence 
of restraining family ties, did not tend to promote 

In this short, spirited race between representatives 
of all nationalities and classes, save the very poor and 
the rich, all started under certain primitive conditions, 
unfettered by traditional and conventional forms, yet 
assisted by the training and resources derived from 
their respective cultures. Some aimed short-sightedly 
only for the nearest golden stake, and this gained, a 
few retired contented; most of them, however, con 
tinued in pursuit of ever-flitting visions. Others, with 
more forethought and enterprise, enlisted wider agen 
cies, organization, machinery, and for a greater goal ; 
and seizing other opportunities by the way, they mul 
tiplied the chances of success in different directions. 
While accustomed to subdue the wilderness, Yankee 
character and institutions have here demonstrated 
their versatility and adaptiveness under somewhat 
different conditions, and in close contest with those 
of other nationalities, by taking the decisive lead in 
evolving from magnificent disorder the framework for 
a great commonwealth, the progress of which structure 
is presented in the succeeding chapters. 82 

82 For fuller and additional authorities bearing on early California society, 
I refer to Burnett s Recoil, of Past, MS., i.-ii., passim; Bartlett s Statement, 
MS., 2-3, 7-9; Barry and Pattens Men and Mem., 46, 61-92, 144-8, 223, 251, 
351; Carson s Early Recoil, 21, 25-6, 29; Janssen s Vida y Av., 198; Arm 
strong s 49 Experiences, MS., 8, 12; Larkin s Doc., vi. 41, 43, 51-2, 66, 144, 
172, 175, 195, 198; vii. 92, 140, 206, 219, 231, 287, 338; Clarke s Statement, 
MS., 1-2; Hyde s Hist. Facts on Cat., MS., 9-13; Dow s Vig. Com., MS., 2, 5; 
Davis Glimpses, MS., 265-78: Farnham s Cal, 22-7, 271^; Fay s Historical 
Facts, MS., 1-3, 10; Fernandez, Cal, 184, 189-92; Annals of S. F., passim; 
Du Hailly, in Rev. des deux Mondes, Feb. 15, 1859, 932; Bauer s Statement, 
MS., 2-3, 5; Alger s Young Miner, passim; Bouton s Cal. Indians, MS.; Arch. 
Monterey Co., xiv. 18; Beadle s Western Wilds, 38; Averill s Life in Cal, pas 
sim; Bancroft s Hand-book; A View of Cal., 167; Ariz. Arch., iii. 297; Antioch 
Ledger, July 1, 1876; Barstow s Statement, MS., 1-4, 7-12; Cal, The Digger s 
Hand-book, 7, 36-41, 49-54, 65-71; Buffum s Six Montlis, 83-4, 117-18, 121, 
124; Dutch Flat Enquirer, Nov. 26, 1864; Farwell s Vig. Com., MS., 5; John 
son s Cal and Ogn, 96-209, 236, 244; Kelly s Excursion, ii. 244-9; Schmiedell s 
Statement, MS., 4-6, 145-6; Frisbie s Reminisc., MS., 36-7; Garniss Early 
Days of S. F., MS,,., 8-23, 29-32; Frinlc s Vig. Cow., MS., 25; Bluxome s Vig. 
Com., MS., 1, 5; Gefstacker, Kreutz und Quer; Kip s Cal Slcetclies, 18-19; 
Lambertie, Voy. Pittoresque, 202-9; Lett s Cat. Illust., 48-55, 70-129; Alameda 


Reporter, May 31, 1879; Kanesv., Iowa, Front Guard, May 16, 1849; Feb. - , 
1850; Polynesian, iv. 102, 183, 207; v.-vii., passim; Merrills Statement, MS., 
2-6, 9-10; Lavxoris Autobiog., MS., 11-17; Currey s Incidents, M.S., 4, 8; Fre 
mont s Year Amer. Travel, 66-8, 98-103, 112-13, 148; Brook* Four Months, 
83, 201-2; Doolittle s Statement, MS., 21-2; Drinkwater, in M iscel. Statement*, 
1-2; Gillespies Vig. Com., MS., 1-6; Carson City Trib., Sept. 23, 1879; Chico 
Enterprise, Aug. 8, 1879; Bryant s What I Saw in Col., 427; Schenck s Vig. 
Com., MS., 14, 16, 20, 22, 44-8; Earll s Statement, MS., 6, 8-10; Cox s Annals 
of Trinity Co., 62-3; Conway s Early Days in California, MS., 1-2; Brewers 
jReminisc., MS., 35-7; Helpers Land of Gold, 36-9, 47, 63-75, 82-4, 144, 158, 
167-9, 237-53; Delano s Life, 249-54, 289-90, 365; Grimshaw s Narrative, MS., 
14; Borthwick s Three Years in Cal, 46-67, 77, 83-5, 127, 151-4, 165-6, 289, 
334, 357-74; Hancock s Thirteen Years, MS., 119-20; Hall s Hist., 232; Green s 
Life and Adv., MS., 17, 19; Guide to Cal., 80-132, 157; Kirkpatrick s Journal, 
14-16; Gold Hill News, Nov. 29, 1867; Geary, in Miscel. Statements, 5; Haw- 
leys Observations, MS., 5, 9-10; Boltvn vs U. S., App. to Brief, 99-101; Bing- 
ham, in Solano Co. Hist., 333; Damerons Autobiog., 22-3; Hunt s Merch. Mag., 
xx. 458; xxi. 136; xxii. 696; xxxi. 114, 386; Los Aug. Star, May 14, 1870; 
King sReptonCal.,1, 215; Hittell, in Dietz Our Boys, 166-8, 174-7, 179; Brown s 
Statement, MS., 14; Deans Statement, MS., 1-2; MarinCo. Hist., 121; Masons 
Kept; Masxett s Exper. of a 49er, 10; Bennett, in Sawtelle s Pioneers, 5; Ward s 
Letter of Aug. 1, 1849, in New York Courier and Enquirer; Nevada Journal, 
Dec. 19, 1856; Nevada Gaz., May 2, 1864; Sonora Union Dem., Sept. 29, 1877; 
Morse, in Direct. Sac., 1853-4, 5-10; Berkeley Advocate, Dec. 25, 1879; Cray s 
Vig. Com., MS., 1; Costa R., Ail. and Pac. R. R., 7-16; Hi tbner s Ramble 
around the World, 146; New West, 342; Evans A la California, 226, 236, 272, 
359, etc. ; Dilke s Greater Britain, 209, 228-32; Red Bluff Sentinel, June 14, 
1873; New and Old, 35, 37, 69; McCollums Cal as I Saw It, 33-6, 60-3; Danas 
Two Years, 432; Nidever s Life and Adv., MS., 139; Low s Observations, MS., 
4-7; Hutchings Illust. Cal. Mag., i. 33, 78, 83, 215, 300, 416, 464; ii. 401; iii. 
60, 129, 210, 254; v. 297, 334-7; HoUnski, La Cal., 108-10, 136; Benton, in 
Hayes Scraps, Cal. Notes, v. 60; Biglers Diary, MS., 77-9; S. 1. Friend, vi. 
16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 85, 88, 96; .vii. 8, 15, 69, 74; viii. 28, 95, 
etc.; S. I. News, ii., passim; Morse s Pion. Exp., MS., 7; Colton s Deck and 
Port, 352, 386, 401; Pioche Journal, June 4, 1875; Pierce s Rough Sketch, 
MS., 105-8, 111; Coles Vig. Com., MS., 3; Mex., Revol. Sta Anna, 154; Pan. 
Star, Feb. 24, 1849; Commerce and Navig. Repts, 1850-67; Overland Monthly, 
xiv. 320, 327-8; xv. 241-8, etc.; Nouv. Annales, 1849, 3, 224; Parson s Life 
of Marshall, 96, 99-103, 157; Connor s Early Cal., MS., 2; Coast Review, Oct. 
1877, 377; Oakland Transcript, March 1, 1873; May 5, 1875; March 25, July 
14, 1877; Monterey Herald, Feb. 13, 1875; Le National, Oct. 4, 1869; Russian 
River Flag, Jan. 9, 1873; Morse s Statement, MS.; Henshaw s Hist. Events, MS., 
1-2, 7-8; Hesperian, ii. 10, 492, 494; Rednitz, Reise, 106; Olneys Vig. Com., 
MS., 1-3; Ventura Free Press, Sept. 29, 1877; Mining and Scientific Press, 
Aug. 3, 1878; Lyon Co., Nev., Times, March 24, 1877; San Diego Arch., 331; 
San Diego Herald, Dec. 5, 1874; Frignet, La Cal., 83, 94, 117, 121-2, 135; 
Foster s Gold Regions, passim; Cerruti s Rambhngs, 25-7, 50, 67; Clemens 
Roughing It, 410, 417, 444; Home Missionary, xxii. 92-3, 163-7, 186; xxiii. 
208-9; xxvii. 159-60; London Quart. Rev., Jan. 1881, 45-6; Pion. Mag., i. 
174; ii. 80; iii. 80-1, 147; iv. 314; Player- Frowd s Six Months in Cal, 22-3; 
Placerville Republ, July 19, 1877; Coke s Rid*, 354-7; Pion. Arch., 29-31; S. 
F. Occident, March 5, 1874; S. F. News Letter, Jan. 17, 1874; S. F. Excltange, 
Jan. 13, 1876; Elite Directory, 1879, 11-19; S. F. Golden Era, March 8, 1874; 
Jan. 26, 1878; S. F. Chronicle, July 6, 1878; June 4, 1879; Oct. 3, 31, 1880; 
S. F. Call, Jan. 6, 28, March 1, Aug. 23, 1865; Sept. 1, 1866; Aug. 1, 1867, 
etc.; San Jose Pioneer, Aug. 4, Dec. 1, 14, 1877; Feb. 16, May 4, July 27, 
1878; Aug. 16, 1879; Hist. San Jose, 209-16; San Joaquin Co. Hist., 21, 23, 
34-5; S. F. Times, Jan. 12, 1867; S. F. Town Talk, Apr. 10, 1857; S. F. Post, 
Apr. 3, 1875; Feb. 10, 1876; July 27, Nov. 1, 23, 1878; Chamberlain s State 
ment, MS., 1; Cousin s Statement, MS., 5-7, 10-18; Hist. Doc. Cal, 1-508; 
Olympia Standard, July 22, 1876; Sargent, in Nevada Grass Val. Direct., 
1856, 29-31; Sta Cruz Sentinel, Feb. 20, 1875; Sta Cruz Times, March 12, 


1870; ROM Narrative, MS., 12, 15-18; Roach s Hist. Facts, MS., 3; Modesto 
Herald, Feb. 14, 1878; Ricltardson s Mining Exper., MS., 10-11, 27-30; Mel 
bourne Morn. Herald, March 29, 1849; Hist, of Los Ang., 73-4; Lloyd s Lights 
and Shades, 18-21, 513-16; Robinsons Cal. and its Gold Regions, 10, 105, 214; 
Capron s Hist. Cal., 125-6, 129, 146, 165, 220, 233; Roach s Statement, MS., 
2-3, 9; Campbell s Circular Notes, i. 98-129; Revue des Deux Mondes, Feb. 1, 

1849, 475; Miscellany, ix., pt. i. 77; McDaniels Early Days, MS., 6, 49-50; 
Sac. Union, Dec. 16, 1854; Sept. 1, 1855; March 13-15, Apr. 4, May 21, June 
26, Sept. 16, Dec. 25, 26, 31, 1856; Sept. 14, 1858; Sept. 4, 1865, etc.; Sac. 
Bee, June 12, 1874; Sac. Wkly Bee, Aug. 16, 1879; Shasta Courier, March 25, 
1865; Shaw s Golden Dreams, 37-42, 47, 179-83; Catholic World, 795, 807; 
Cal, Pop. and Col. Scraps, 126-7; Sayward s Pioneer Remin., MS., 4, 29-33; 
Ryan s Pers. Adv., ii. 170-220, 250-7, 265-6; Id., Judges and Grim., 80-2; 
Cal. Pilgrim, 54, 136; S. F. Bulletin, Jan. 2, March 29, Apr. 1, July 7, 8, 
Aug. 5, Sept. 15, 20, 25, Nov. 27, Dec. 4, 1856; Sept. 27, 1862; Feb. 28, Oct. 
28, 1865; Apr. 30, 1866; Jan. 23, 25, 1867, etc.; Cal, Pion. Celebrations 
Scraps, 8-10; Id., Polit. Scraps, 123; Cal Archives, Unbound Doc., 20, 55, 56, 
58, 59, 64-7, 224-6, 228, 319-20, 322-3, 328-9; Cal, Advent, of a Captain s 
Wife, 18, 20, 27-8, 41-2; Cal Past and Present, 107-9, 149-50, 159-60, 163; 
Sacramento Illust., 8, 12-13; The World Over, 92-110; The Mines, Miners, etc., 
790-1; Thomas, in Sac. Direct., 1871, 52-3, 76, 1034; McCabe s Our Coun 
try, 1054-6; Mayne s Br. Columbia, 157, 163; The World Here and There, 
14-27; Matthewsons Statement, MS., 2-3; Sutton s Early Exper., MS., passim; 
Stockton Indep., Aug. 31, 1878; July 28, 1879; Soules Statement, MS., 2, 4; 
ElSonorense, May 2, 1849, p. 4; La Armonia Social (Guadalajara), March 2, 
1849; Miller s Songs of the Sierras, 69, 70, 280; Solano Press, Dec. 11, 1867; 
Solano Co. Hist., 164; Wilmington Enterprise, Jan. 21, 1875; Tuthill s Hist. 
Cal, passim; Vanderbilt, in Miscel Statements, 32, 35; Shuck s Repres. Men of 
S. F., 936-7; Shinn s Mining Camps, 137; Virginia, Nev., Chron., May 21, 
1877; Sac. Record, March 6, 1875; Tinkham s Hist. Stockton, 166-75; Sher 
wood s Pocket Guide, 64-5; London Times, July 25, 1850; Little s Statement, 
MS., 3, 11, 16; Upham s Notes, 221-2, 225-6, 265-72; Mrs Tibbey, in Miscel 
Statements, 19-20; Tiffany s Pocket Exch. Guide, 16, 124-6; Tyler s Mormon 
Battalion, 242-334; Taylor s Oregonians, MS., 1-2; Id., Spec. Press, 11$, 50, 
57i 500-3; Id., Eldorado, i.-ii., passim; Id., Cal. Life Illust., 164-7, 190-4; 
Crosby s Events in Cal, MS., 10-17, 22-3, 25, 38-9, 46; Torres, Perip., 62, 99- 
100, 109, 112, 145; La Motte s Statement, MS., 1; Ryckman s Vig. Com., MS.; 
Van Dyke s Statement, MS., 3; Voorhies Oration, 1853, 4-5; Vinton s Quarter 
master s Rept U. S. A., 1850, 245-S; Cal In and Out, 254, 344, 360; Ver 
Mehr s Checkered Life, 344, 367-8; Todd, in Miscel. Statement, 21; Watkin s 
Vig. Com., MS., 1, 24; Vallejo Wkly Chron., July 26, 1873; Velasco, Son., 
325; Soc. Mex. Geog., Bolet., xi. 129; Vallejo, Col Doc., xxxv. 47, 148, 192; 
Willey s Thirty Years, MS., 37, 39; Id., Personal Memoranda, MS., 127-8; 
Wheaton s Statement, MS., 2-4; U. S. Govt Doc., 31st Cong., 1st Sess., H. Ex. 
17, pp. 693, 845, 968-9; Yuba Co. History, 147; Wilmington Enterprise, Jan. 21, 
1875; Williams Stateme.nt, MS., 3-14; Id., Rec. of Early Days, MS., 1-13; Id., 
Pion. Pastorate, 44-8; Carson State Register, Oct. 19, 1871; Upton, in Overland 
Mthly, ii. 135-7; Winans Statement, MS., 3-6, 14-18; Turrill s Cal Note*, 
22-7; Shirley, in Miscel Statements, 13-16; Woods Pion. Work, 17-18; Id., 
Sixteen Months, 46, 62, 68, 72, 74-6, 87, 148, 167; Cal, Statutes, 1850 et seq.; 
Id., Journal House, 1850, p. 1344; Id., Journ. Sen., 1850, pp. 481, 1299, 1307, 
1340, and index; 1851, pp. 921-4, 999, 1516-34, 1583, 1658-76; S. F. Alta 
Cal, Jan. 25, June 5, 14, Aug. 2, Dec. 15, 1849; Jan. 14, 16, May 27, June 
25, July 1, Dec. 19, 21, 24, 1850; 1851-2, passim, etc.; S. F. Daily Herald, 

1850, passim; Feb. 19, Sept. 30, 1851; Apr. 7, 1852; Neall s Vig. Com., MS., 
3-5, 14-16, 23-8; S. F. Minutes Assembly, 1849, passim; Id., Mumcs Rept, 
1859-60, pp. 167-8; 1861-2, pp. 259-60; 1866-7, p. 520; Id., Manuel, pp. ix.- 
xvi.; Sac. Transcript, Apr. 26, May 29, June 29, Sept. 18, 30, Oct. 14, Nov. 
14, 29, 1850; Jan. 14, May 15, 1851; Hittell s Hist. S. F., passim; S. F. Paci 
fic News, Nov. -Dec. 1849, passim; 1850, passim; Jan. 1, 10, 21, 23, Feb. 7, 
14, Apr. 11, 1851; Parker s S. F. Direct., 1852-3, 7-18; Kimball sS. F. Direct., 
1850, 124-30; Sac., Placer Times, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, 30, 1849, passim. 




IN the anthem of human progress there is here and 
there a chorus of events which rolls its magnificent 
volume around the world, making all that went before 
or that follows seem but the drowsy murmur of the 
night. In this crash of chorus we regard not the in 
struments nor the players, but are lifted from the 
plane by the blended power of its thousand-stringed 
eloquence, and under the spell of its mighty harmonies 
become capable of those great emotions which lead 
to heroic deeds. The political history of California 
opens as such a chorus, whose mingling strains, dis 
tinctive heard for more than a decade, come from a 
few heavy -brained white men and four millions of negro 

Calhoun, the great yet sinister Carolinian, knew, 
when he opposed the conquest of California, that the 
south, and he more than all, had brought about the 
event; 1 and while pretending not to desire more ter- 

1 Benton, in the congressional debates of 1847, in which Calhoun opposed 
the acquisition of more territory, and into which he introduced his firebrand 
resolutions see Cong. Globe, 1846-7, p. 455 made a clear case against Cal 
houn, showing unequivocally that either he had three times changed his 



ritory, the slave power was covertly grasping at the 
Spanish-speaking countries beyond the Rio Grande, 

policy, or that he was the Machaivelli of American politics. Benton s history 
of the causes of the war was as follows: The cession of Texas is the begin 
ning point in the chain of causes which have led to this war; for unless the 
country had been ceded away there could have been no quarrel with any 
power in getting it back. For a long time the negotiator of that treaty of 
cession [Mr J. Q. Adams] bore all the blame of the loss of Texas, and his 
motives for giving it away were set down to hostility to the south and west, 
and a desire to clip the wings of the slave-holding states. At last the truth 
of history has vindicated itself, and has shown who was the true author of 
that mischief to the south and west. Mr Adams has made a public declara 
tion, which no one controverts, that that cession was made in conformity to 
the decision of Mr Monroe s cabinet, a majority of which was slave-holding, 
and among them the present senator from South Carolina [Mr Calhoun], and, 
now the only survivor of that majority. He does not contradict the state 
ment of Mr Adams; he therefore stands admitted the co-author of the mis 
chief to the south and west which the cession of Texas involved, and to 
escape from which it became necessary, in the opinion of the senator from 
South Carolina, to get back Texas at the expense of a war with Mexico. This 
conduct of the senator in giving away Texas when we had her, and then 
making war to get her back, is an enigma which he has never yet conde 
scended to explain, and which until explained leaves him in a state of self- 
contradiction, which, whether it impairs his own confidence in himself or 
not, must have the effect of destroying the confidence of others in him, and 
wholly disqualifies him for the office of champion of the slave-holding states. 
It was the heaviest blow they had ever received, and put an end, in conjunc 
tion with the Missouri compromise and the permanent location of the In 
dians west of the Mississippi, to their future growth or extension as slave 
states beyond the Mississippi. The [Missouri] compromise, which was then 
in full progress, and established at the next session of congress, cut off the 
slave states from all territory north and west of Missouri, and south of SGg 
of north latitude; the treaty of 1819 ceded nearly all south of that degree, 
comprehending not only Texas, but a large part of the valley of the Missis 
sippi on the Red River and the Arkansas, to a foreign power, and brought a 
noii-slave-holding empire to the confines of Louisiana and Arkansas; the per 
manent appropriation of the rest of the territory for the abode of civilized In 
dians swept the little slave-holding territory west of Arkansas, and lying 
between the compromise line and the cession line, and left the slave states 
without one inch of ground for their future growth. Even the then territory 
of Arkansas was encroached upon. A breadth of 40 miles wide and 300 long 
was cut off from her and given to the Cherokees; and there was not as much 
territory left west of the Mississippi as a dove could have rested the sole of her 
foot upon. It was not merely a curtailment but a total extinction of slave- 
holding territory; and done at a time when the Missouri controversy was 
raging, and every effort made by northern abolitionists to scop the growth of 
the slave states. [The northern states, in 1824, gave nearly as large a vote 
for Calhoun for vice-president as they did for Adams for president.] The 
senator from South Carolina, in his support of the cession of Texas, and ced 
ing a part of the valley of the Mississippi, was then the most efficient ally 
of the restrictionists at that time, and deprives him of the right of setting up 
as the champion of the slave states now. I denounced the sacrifice of Texas 
then, believing Mr Adams to have been the author of it; I denounce it now, 
knowing the senator from South Carolina to be its author; and for this, his 
flagrant recreancy to the slave interest in their hour of utmost peril, I hold 
him disqualified for the office of champion of the 14 slave states, and shall 
certainly require him to keep out of Missouri and to confine himself to his 
own bailiwick when he comes to discuss his string of resolutions. I come 


as it had at the lands beyond the Sabine, the whole 
to become a breeding-ground for millions more of 

now to the direct proofs of the authorship of the war, and begin with the 
year 1836, and with the month of May of that year, and with the 27th day 
of that month, and with the first rumors of the victory of San Jacinto. The 
congress of the United States was then in session; the senator from South 
Carolina was then a member of this body; and without even waiting for the 
official confirmation of the great event, he proposed at once the immediate 
recognition of the independence of Texas, and her immediate admission to 
the union. He put the two propositions together recognition and admission. 
. . . Mr Calhoun was of opinion that it would add more strength to the cause 
of Texas to wait a few days until they received official confirmation of the 
victory and capture of Santa Ana, in order to obtain a more unanimous vote 

in favor of the recognition of Texas He had made up his mind, not only 

to recognize the independence of Texas, but for her admission into this union; 
and if the Texans managed their affairs prudently, they would soon be called 
upon to decide that question. There were powerful reasons why Texas should 
be a part of the union. The southern states, owning a slave population, were 
deeply interested in preventing that country from having the power to annoy 
them; and the navigating and manufacturing interests of the north and east 
were equally interested in making it a part of this union. He thought they 
would soon be called on to decide these questions; and when they did act on 
it, he was for acting on both together for recognizing the independence of 
Texas and for admitting her into the union .... He hoped there would be no 
unnecessary delay, for in such cases delays were dangerous; but that they 
would act with unanimity and act promptly. Here, then, is the proof that 
ten years ago, and without a word of explanation with Mexico or any request 
from Texas without the least notice to the American people, or time for 
deliberating among ourselves, or any regard to existing commerce he was 
for plunging us into instant war with Mexico. I say, instant war; for Mex 
ico and Texas were then in open war; and to incorporate Texas was to incor 
porate the war at the same time I well remember the senator s look and 

attitude on that occasion the fixedness of his look and the magisteriality of 
his attitude. It was such as he often favors us with, especially when he is in 
a crisis, and brings forward something which ought to be instantly and unani 
mously rejected, as when he brought in his string of abstractions on Thurs 
day last. So it was in 1836 prompt and unanimous action, and a look to 
put down opposition. But the senate were not looked down in 1836. They 

promptly and unanimously refused the senator s motion The congress of 

1836 would not admit Texas. The senator from South Carolina became 
patient; the Texas question went to sleep, and for seven good years it made 
no disturbance. It then woke up, and with a suddenness and violence pro 
portioned to its long repose. Mr Tyler was then president; the senator from 
South Carolina was potent under his administration, and soon became his 
secretary of state. All the springs of intrigue and diplomacy were imme 
diately set in motion to resuscitate the Texas question, and to reinvest it with 
all the dangers and alarms which it had worn in 1836 ... all these imme 
diately developed themselves, and intriguing agents traversed earth and sea, 
from Washington to Texas, and from London to Mexico. I will now give a 
part of a letter, which Benton puts in evidence, from the Texan minister, 
van Zandt, to Upsher, the American sec. of state, in Jan. 1844, and the 
reply of Calhoun, his successor, in April. In view, then, of these things, 
said the Texan minister, I desire to submit, through you, to his excellency, 
the president of the U. S., this inquiry: Should the president of Texas 
accede to the proposition of annexation, would the president of the U. S., 
after the signing of the treaty and before it shall be ratified and receive the 
final action of the other branches of both governments, in case Texas should 
desire it, or with her consent, order such number of the military and naval 


human chattels. To the original slave territory had 
been added, by consent of congress, the Floridas, which 
cost $45,000,000 in a war, and $5,000,000 decency 
money to bind the bargain; Louisiana, which cost 
$15,000,000, or as much of it as made three states; 
Texas, which cost $28,000,000 in the form of the 
Mexican war, and before we were done with it, be 
tween $18,000,000 and $19,000,000 in decency money. 
That the government was able to reimburse itself 
through the conquest of California does not affect the 
justice of the charge against the southern politicians, 
who were always ready with their cry of northern 
aggression, 2 and the unconstitutional ity of northern 
acts, while gathering to themselves all the acquired ter- 

forces of the U. S. to such necessary points or places upon the territory or 
borders of Texas or the gulf of Mexico as shall be sufficient to protect her 
against foreign aggression ? This communication, as well as the reply which 
you may make, will be considered by me entirely confidential, and not to be em 
braced in my regular official correspondence to my government, but enclosed 
direct to the president of. Texas for his information. To this letter Upsher 
made no reply, and six weeks afterward he died. His temporary successor, 
Attorney-general Nelson, did reply indirectly, but to say that the U. S. could 
not employ its army and navy against a foreign power with which they were 
at peace. Calhoun, however, when he became sec. of state, wrote: I am 
directed by the president to say that the secretary of the navy has been in 
structed to order a strong naval force to concentrate in the gulf of Mexico 
to meet any emergency; and that similar orders have been issued by the sec 
retary of war, to move the disposable military forces on our southern fron 
tier for the same purpose. Cong. Globe, 1846-7, 494-501. I have not room 
for further quotations, but this is enough to show the southern authenticity 
of the Mexican war, which the democratic administration of Polk brought 
to a crisis in 1845-6, but which was ready prepared to his hand at the moment 
of his inauguration, by the scheming of the most bitter opponent of conquest 
after the restriction of slavery began again to be agitated. 

2 No more convincing reference could be made to prove the conciliatory 
spirit of the free states than the constitution itself, nor to show that they re 
garded slavery as local and temporary. Section 9 of article 1 declares : The 
migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing 
shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the congress previous 
to the year 1808, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not 
exceeding ten dollars for each person. The slave states were fewer in num 
ber and more thinly settled than the free states; therefore the latter, to equalize 
the power of the two sections, and secure the federation of all the states, made 
important concessions; and while saying that no capitation or direct tax shall 
be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration hereinbefore di 
rected to be taken, and that representation should be determined by numbers, 
says further, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of 
free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and ex 
cluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons, meaning three 
fifths of the slaves in the slave states, which were not subject to taxation, 
though held as property, and though not acknowledged to be men, were 
represented in congress. See sec. 1, article 1, of the constitution. 


ritory, enjoying privileges of exemption from just tax 
ation, and having excessive representation in congress 
and a preponderance of the political patronage The 
north, in 1846, had more than twice the free voting 
population of the south, while the south had more 
states than the north, 3 consequently more votes in the 
United States senate, with the privilege of a prop 
erty representation in the lower house. Such was 
the aggressiveness of the north toward the south, of 
which for a dozen years we heard so much in con 
gress. 4 

It was said in seeming earnest that the south had 
not desired the acquisition of Mexican territory. This 
was but a feint on the part of the southern leaders. 
The whigs of the north and south, in the senate, op 
posed the war policy, while the democrats favored it. 
Nor was it different in the house of representatives. 
Yet when it came to be voted upon, the matter had 
gone past the nation s power to retract, and the last 
$3,000,000 was placed in the president s hands by a 
nearly equal vote in the senate, and a large majority 
in the house. Having done the final act, the people 
could exult in their new possessions, and elect a whig 
to the presidency for having been the conquering hero 
in the decisive Mexican battles. 

The conquest of California had been a trifling mat- 

3 At the period when these discussions were being carried on, Feb. 1847, 
the northern or free states were Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massa 
chusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan, 14. The southern or slave 
states were Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas, 15. In August Wisconsin was admitted, 
which restored the balance in the senate. The struggle which followed over 
the admission of California was a battle for political supremacy as well as for 
slave territory. That this cause underlying this strife has been removed, the 
nation should be profoundly grateful. 

4 Schenkof Ohio, speaking to the house of representatives, said: This 
much we do know in the free states, if we know nothing else, that a man at 
the south with his hundred slaves counts 61 in the weight of influence and 
power upon this floor, while the man at the north with his 100 farms counts 
but 1. Sir, we want no more of that; and with the help of God and our own 
fir.ii purpose we will have no more of it. Cony. Globe, vol. 18, 1847-8, 1023. 


ter, mere guerrilla practice between a few hundred 
American settlers of the border class and a slightly 
larger force of Californians. At the proper juncture 
the former were given aid and comfort by the United 
States military 5 and naval forces, and the conquest 
had cost little bloodshed. It is true, there was a re 
volt, which was cut short by the treaty of Cahuenga 
in January 1847 There was the irony of fate in 
what followed the conquest, first planned by southern 
politicians, and accomplished in defiance of their sub 
sequent opposition ; namely, the contemporaneous dis 
covery of gold, and the influx of a large population, 
chiefly from the northern states. As to the real Cali 
fornians, those of them who had not been masters had 
once been slaves, and they now would have only free 

The idea of conquest in the American mind has 
never been associated with tyranny. 6 On the con 
trary, such is the national trust in its own superiority 
and beneficence, that either as a government or as 
individuals we have believed ourselves bestowing a 
precious booft upon whomsoever we could confer in a 
brotherly spirit our institutions. And down to the 
present time the other nations of the earth have not 
been able to prove us far in the wrong in indulging 
this patriotic self-esteem. But there are circum 
stances which obstruct all transitions of this nature, 
and temptations which being yielded to by individuals 
impart an odor of iniquity to governments which they 
have not justly merited. It was so when soldiers 

& Prof. Josiah Royce, of Harvard college, by philosophic reasoning as well 
as by collateral evidence, arrives at similar conclusions. Study of American 

6 Luis G. Cuevas, sec. of interior and foreign relations of Mexico, in his 
report to congress of 5th Jan., 1849, speaking of the treaty of Guadalupe Hi 
dalgo, says that the future of the Californians was an object of deep solicitude 
to the govt and congress, and to the plenipotentiaries of Mexico, and the 
relative stipulations of the treaty, and the measures subsequently taken to 
diminish their misfortune, make evident how deep is the feeling caused by 
the separation from the national union of Mexicans, those so worthy of pro 
tection, and of marked consideration. Mex. Mem. Relac., 1849, p. 14. So 
far as the Californians were concerned, they were ripe for separation, as the 
secretary must have known. 


of the Castilian race, under the seeming authority of 
the Spanish rulers at Madrid, robbed and massacred 
the native races of this continent, notwithstanding the 
mandate not to commit these crimes against human 
ity. It is so to-day, when the cry is daily going up 
against our Indian policy, which thoughtfully exam 
ined in the light of history is in some respects an 
enlightened and Christian policy; for instead of reduc 
ing the savages to slavery or taxing them to support 
the government of the invader, it simply kills them, 
the few survivors being supported and educated at 
public expense. It is a wise policy, a humane policy, 
but in the hands of vile politicians and their creatures, 
it results in acts that satisfy Satan most of all. Still, 
if certain Americans, being possessed of the souls of 
sharks rather than of men, contrived by the aid of 
laws maleadministered to swallow up the patrimony 
of many a Juan and Ignacio of this dolce far niente 
land, it cannot be said that the United States was an 
intelligent party to the scandal. 

When Commodore Sloat, at Monterey, in July 
1846, proclaimed California free from Mexican rule, 
and a territory of the United States, he exercised no 
tyrannous authority, simply informing the people that 
until the United States should erect a government 
they would be under the authority and protection of 
military laws. 7 He assured them that their rights of 
conscience, of property, and of suffrage should be re 
spected; that the clergy should remain in possession of 
the churches ; and that while the manufactures of the 
United States would be admitted free of duty, about 
one fourth of the former rates would be charged on 
foreign merchandise. Should any not wish to live 
under the new government as citizens of it, they would 
be afforded every facility for selling their property 
and retiring from the country. Should they prefer to 
remain, in order that the peace of the country and 

Hist. San Jose, 148-50 
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 17 


the course of justice should not be disturbed, the pre 
fects of districts and alcaldes 8 of municipalities were 
to retain their offices, and continue the exercise of the 
functions pertaining to them in the same manner as 
formerly. Provisions furnished the United States 
officers and troops should be fairly purchased, and the 
holders of real estate should have their titles confirmed 
to them. Such were the promises and intentions of 
the government, reiterated from time to time by the 
military governors. 

In the disquiet incident to a sudden change of gov 
ernment, it happened that Americans not infrequently 
were appointed to the office of alcalde, to fill vacancies 
occurring through these disruptive conditions. Wal 
ter Colton, the American alcalde at Monterey, exer 
cising the unlimited authority conferred upon him by 
the office, impanelled the first jury ever summoned in 
Monterey, September 4, 1846, composed one third 

*Bidwell, 1841 to 1848, MS., 231. The district of Sonoma was bounded 
by S. F. Bay, the ocean, the Oregon line, and the Sac. River; the Sac. dis 
trict, the territory east of the Sacramento, and north and east of the San Joa- 
quin; and so on. There was an alcalde wherever there was a settlement. 
Crosby s Statement, MS., 16. It was not necessary that an alcalde should 
know much about written law or precedents. In both civil and criminal 
suits brought before him his decisions were final, the penalties being severe 
and invariably applied. Burnett, Recoil., MS., ii. 143. The punishment of 
stealing, the most common crime, was for Mexicans a fine, and for Indians 
whipping. The Calif ornians had no penitentiary system, nor work -houses. 
Colton, who was appointed by Stockton alcalde of Monterey, July 28, 1846, 
introduced compulsory labor for criminals, and before the end of a month had 
8 Indians, 3 Calif ornians, and one i, glishman making adobes, all sentenced 
for stealing horses or cattle. Each nuvt make 53 adobes per day; for all over 
that number they were paid a cent a piece, the total of their weekly earnings 
being paid every Saturday night. A captain was put over them, chosen from 
their own number, and no other guard was required. Three Years in Cal., 41- 
2. Colton was chaplain on board the ship Congress when appointed. He held 
the position only until Sept. 15th, when he returned to his duties on board 
the ship. He really discharged the duties of prefect, for, he says: It devolved 
upon me duties similar to those of a mayor of one of our cities, without any 
of those judicial aids which he enjoys. It involves every breach of the peace, 
every case of crime, every business obligation, and every disputed land-title 
within 300 miles. From every other alcalde s court in this jurisdiction there 
is an appeal to this, and none from this to any higher tribunal. Such an ab 
solute disposal of questions affecting property and personal liberty never 
ought to be confided to one man. There is not a judge on any bench in Eng 
land or the United States whose power is so absolute as that of the alcalde of 
Monterey. Colton held under a military commission, succeeding the purser 
of the Congress, R. M. Price, and the surgeon, Edward Gilchrist. After the 
15th of Sept. the office was restored to its civil status, the incumbent being 
elected by the people. 


each of native Californians, Mexicans, and Americans. 
The case being an important one, involving property 
on one side and character on the other, and the dis 
putants being some of the principal citizens of the 
county, it excited unusual interest, to which being 
added the novel excitement of the new mode of trial, 
there was created a profound impression. By means 
of interpreters, and with the help of experienced 
lawyers, the case was carefully examined, and a ver 
dict rendered by the jury of mixed nationalities, which 
was accepted as justice by both sides, though neither 
party completely triumphed. One recovered his prop 
erty which had been taken by mistake, and the other 
his character which had been slandered by design. 9 
With this verdict the inhabitants expressed satisfac 
tion, because they could see in the method pursued no 
opportunity for bribery They had yet to learn that 
even juries could be purchased. 

Stockton, who succeeded Sloat, acted toward the 
Californian population in the same conciliatory spirit. 
The strife in 1847 was not between them and the mili 
tary authorities, but between the military chiefs, who 
each aspired to be the first to establish a civil govern 
ment in the conquered country, as I have shown in a 
previous volume. 10 Kearny claimed that he had been 
instructed by the secretary of war to march from 
Mexico to California, and to "take possession "of all the 
sea-coast and other towns, and establish civil govern 
ment therein. When he arrived, possession had al 
ready been taken, and a certain form of government, 
half civil and half military, had been put in operation. 
Stockton had determined upon Fremont as military 
commander and governor, who was to report to him 
as commander-in-chief. Kearny would have made 
Fremont governor had he joined him against Stockton. 
On January 19, 1847, Fremont assumed the civil gov 
ernment, with William H. Russell secretary of state, 

Cotton s Three Years in Cal., 47. 
19 Hist. Cal., v. 444-51, this series. 


under commissions from Stockton. A legislative 
council was appointed, consisting of Juan Bandini, 
Juan B. Alvarado, David Spence, Eliab Grimes, San 
tiago Arguello, M. G. Vallejo, and T. O. Larkin, 
summoned to convene at Los Angeles, March 1st; but 
no meeting was ever held. Finally, the authorities 
at Washington ordered Fremont to return to the capi 
tal as soon as his military services could be dispensed 
with. There was a new naval commander in January, 
Shubrick, who sided with Kearny. Together they 
issued a circular, in which Kearny assumed executive 
powers, fixing the capital at Monterey. The country 
was to be held simply as a conquest, and as nearly as 
possible under the old laws, until such time as the 
United States should provide a territorial government. 
In June, Kearny set out for Washington with Fre 
mont. In July, Stockton also took his departure. The 
person left in command of the land forces, and to act 
as governor, was R. B. Mason, colonel 1st dragoons, 
who, perceiving the rock upon which his predecessors 
had split, confined his ambition to compliance with 
instructions, and who ruled as acceptably as was pos 
sible under the anomalous condition of affairs in the 

In October, Governor Mason visited San Francisco, 
where he found a newly elected town council. On 
taking leave, after a flattering reception, he addressed 
a communication to the council, 11 reminding them that 
their jurisdiction was limited to the territory embraced 
by the town limits, which the alcalde 12 was directed to 

11 The council consisted of William Glover, William D. M. Howard, Wil 
liam A. Leidesdorff, E. P. Jones, Robert A. Parker, and William S. Clark. 
Howard, Jones, and Clark were chosen a committee to draught a code of muni 
cipal laws. Under these regulations George Hyde was first alcalde, and was 
not popular. The second alcalde, for there were two, was T. M. Leavenworth. 
Leidesdorff was nominated town treasurer, and William Pettet secretary of 
the council. At the same meeting the council imposed a fine of $500, and 3 
months imprisonment on any one who enticed a sailor to desert, or who har 
bored deserting seamen. Certain odious conditions in the titles to town lots 
were removed. 

12 Washington A. Bartlett, a lieutenant attached to a U. S. vessel, was 
the first American alcalde of S. F., appointed in Jan. 1847, and responsible 
for the restoration of name from Yerba Buena to the more sonorous, well- 


determine without unnecessary delay ; that their duties 
were prospective, not retrospective; warning them 
against abrogating contracts made by previous author 
ities, further than to exercise the right of appeal in 
the case of injurious regulations, and advising the 
council to keep the municipality free from debt. Three 
petitions being presented to him for the removal of the 
then alcalde, he ordered an investigation of the charges, 
which resulted in the resignation of that officer and 
the appointment of another in his place. Having 
settled these affairs, Mason returned to Monterey; 
and from the proceedings here hinted at may be in 
ferred how rapidly, even at this date, the country was 
becoming Americanized, the best evidence of which 
was the freedom with which the existing institutions 
were assailed by the press, represented by two weekly 
newspapers, both published at San Francisco. 

As early as February 13, 1847, the California Star 
urged the calling of a convention to form a constitu 
tion for the territory, justifying the demand by rail 
ing at the existing order of things. The author of 
these tirades was Doctor Semple, of whom I shall 
have more to say hereafter, and whom Colton calls 
his "tall partner." "We have alcaldes," he said, "all 
over the country, assuming the power of legislatures, 
issuing and promulgating their bandos, laws, and orders, 
and oppressing the people." He declared that the 
"most nefarious scheming, trickery, and speculating 
have been practised by some." He spoke propheti 
cally of what was still in the future rather than of 

known, and saintly appellation which it now bears. It had at this time 300 
inhabitants, 50 adobe houses, and a weekly newspaper, the California Star, 
owned by Sam Brannan and edited by E. P. Jones. In May the Californian, 
started at Monterey Aug. 15, 1846, was removed to S. F. During Bartlett s 
administration Jasper O Farrell surveyed and planned the city. Some dis 
satisfaction existed with the grants made by his successor, Hyde, who was 
appointed Feb. 22, 1847. He was succeeded by Edwin Bryant, author of 
What I Saw in California, who returned to the states with Kearny and Fre 
mont. Hyde was again appointed, and was succeeded, as I have said, by J. 
Townsend, T. M. Leavenworth, and J. W. Geary, the last alcalde and first 
mayor of S. F. 


anything of which complaint had been made at that 
time. Before the end of the year, however, causes 
of dissatisfaction had multiplied with the population, 13 
and the "inefficient mongrel military rule" was becom 
ing odious. Some of the alcaldes refused to take cogni 
zance of cases involving over $100; but the governor 
failing to provide higher tribunals, they were forced 
to adjudicate in any amount or leave such cases with 
out remedy; and the authority they exercised, which 
combined the executive, legislative, and judicial func 
tions in their persons, constantly became more poten 
tial, and also more liable to abuse. But there was no 
help for the condition of public affairs until the United 
States and Mexico should agree upon some treaty 
terms by which military rule could be suspended and 
a civil government erected. 

The year 1848 opened with the discovery that the 
territory acquired by the merest show of arms, and 
for which the conquering power was offering to pay a 
friendship-token of nearly twenty millions, was a gold- 
field, which promised to reimburse the purchaser. It 
had hardly become known in California, and was un 
known in Mexico and the United States, when on 
the 2d of February, 1848, the treaty of Guadalupe 
Hidalgo was signed; 14 nor was it fully substantiated 
at the seat of government when, on the 19th of June, 
the treaty was proclaimed by the president. The 
news did not reach California until August, when it 
was here proclaimed on the 7th of that month. 

Mason seems to have been at his wit s end long 
before this. He was undoubtedly favorable to the 
project of a civil government, and he was aware that 
the administration secretly held the same views. Polk 
understood the American people they had given him 
a precedent in Oregon. When Mason had reason to 
think that any day he might receive despatches from 
Washington appointing a governor, and furnishing a 

13 California Star, Jan. 22, 1848. 

14 Hist. Hex., v. 542, this series. 


code of laws for the temporary government of the 
country, he drew back from the responsibility. But 
the rush and roar of the tide being turned upon the 
country by the gold discovery staggered him. In 
June he visited the mines to judge for himself of the 
necessity for political action. 15 When he issued his 
proclamation of the treaty two months later, he an 
nounced that he had instructions from Washington 
" to take proper measures for the permanent occupa 
tion of the newly acquired territory;" 16 and in conso 
nance with this declaration he formally promulgated 
a code, printed in English and Spanish. 17 With this 
the American population were not satisfied, insisting 
on a complete territorial organization, such as he had 
no authority to establish. 18 

San Francisco was, unlike Monterey, Los Angeles, 
and San Jose, to all intents an American town, whose 
inhabitants demanded security for their persons and 
property, and titles to their real estate. But this was 
by no means the sole or most urgent cause of anxiety 
to the governor. 19 Early in the spring there had ar- 

^Larlcin, Doc., vi. 135. 

16 Californian, S. F., Sept. 2, 1848, iv., p. 1. 

17 Id., Aug. 14, 1848, iii. 2. 

18 Hyde, Statement, MS., 11. 

19 The Americans, Mason knew, could take care of themselves. They had 
already organized the San Francisco guards. A meeting was held Sept. 2d 
in the public building on Portsmouth square. It was called to order t>y P. 
A. Roach; J. C. Ward was appointed chairman, and R. M. Morrison secty. 
Officers elected: Edward Gilbert, captain; James C. Ward, 1st lieut; James 
C. Leighton, 2d lieut; William Grove, 3d lieut; W. D. M. Howard, 1st sergt., 
A. J. Ellis, 2d sergt; George W. Whittock, 3d sergt; James Lee, 4th sergt; 
corporals, Francis Murray, A. Durkin, Daniel Leahy, Ira Blanchard; surgeon, 
W. C. Parker; quartermaster, E. H. Harrison; paymaster, R. M. Sherman. 
Civil officers of the corps selected were, prest, T. R. P. Lee; 1st vice-prest, 
James Creightonj 2d vice-prest, R. M. Morrison; treasurer, A. A. Brins- 
made; secty, H. L. Sheldon. A committee was appointed to address thi 

fovernor, asking for a loan of arms. Californian, S. F., Sept. 9, 1848, iii., p. 
. On the 24th of Sept., 1849, bids were received by the Guards for tho 
erection of a building on the corner of Jackson and Dupont sts, 40x55 ft, 3 
stories high. The contract was given to John Sime at $21,000. Such a 
building would be worth in 1878 about $2,500. Williams Statement, MS., 10^ 
11. A branch organization was formed at Sac. in 1850, called the Sacramento 
guards, having 64 members. The officers were David McDowell, capt. ; 
Henry Hale, 1st lieut; W. H. Crowell, 2d lieut; James Queen, 3d lieut; 
sergts, 1st, H. G. Langley; 2d, B. B. Gore; 3d, C. C. Flagg; 4th, W. H. Tal- 
mage; corporals, L. I. Wilder, G. L. Hewitt, T. H. Borden, W. E. Moody; 
clerk, W. R. McCracken. Sac. Transcript, Aug. 30, 1850; Bluxvme, MS., 
6, 20. 


rived a number of vessels with troops, despatched to 
California in the autumn of 1849, while the Mexican 
war was in progress. 20 Such were the temptations 
offered by the gold mines that the seamen deserted, 
leaving their vessels without men to navigate them. 
The newly arrived soldiers did the same, 21 and it was 
found necessary to grant furloughs to the men, to give 
them an opportunity to try their fortunes in gold-get 
ting. 22 

On the arrival of Commodore T. Ap Catesby Jones, 
in October, he felt compelled to offer immunity from 
punishment to such deserters from the navy as were 
guilty of no other offence than desertion. This clem 
ency was based upon the information, real or pre 
tended, that many of them were in distress, 23 and 
deterred from returning to duty only by their fears ; 
but the majority of seamen were by no means eager 
to forsake the mines for the forecastle, or the chances 
of a fortune for a few dollars a month and rations. In 
August, Mason wrote to the quartermaster-general of 
the army that, in consequence of the quantity of gold 
obtained in the country, cash meaning silver coin 
was in great demand, and that drafts could not be 
negotiated except at a ruinous discount. At the same 
time, disbursements were heavy, in consequence of 
the small garrisons, and the necessity of hiring laborers 
and guards for the quartermaster storehouses, at 
tremendous wages;" namely, from $50 to $100 
monthly. 24 

20 There was the Anita, purchased by the govt for the quartermaster s 
dept, and placed under past midshipman Selim E. Woodworth, who it will 
be remembered arrived overland with the Oregon immigration the previous 
year. She is mentioned in the California Star, Feb. 26, 1848. She was armed 
with two guns, to be used as a man-of-war on the upper California coast, and 
manned with seamen from the sloop-of-war Warren at Monterey. The ships 
Jsabella and Sweden arrived in Feb. with recruits for N. Y. vols., who were 
employed in garrisoning the Cal. military posts. The Huntress arrived later 
with recruits, who nearly all deserted. H. Ex. Doc., 31, i., no. 17, pp. 648-9. 

21 The history of the arrival in Cal. of Comp. F, 3d artillery, Jan. 1847, 
the N. Y. volunteers in March 1847 and Feb. 1848, and a battalion of dra 
goons from Mexico in Aug. 1848, is given in my Hist. Cal., v., ch. xix. 

22 Lancy, Cruise of the Dale, 222; Grimshaw, Narr., MS., 12-13. 

23 Calif ornian, S. F., Dec. 23, 1848. 

24 H. Ex. Doc., 17, p. 641. See order of A. A. Adjut. W. T. Sherman 


It was indeed a difficult position to occupy, that of 
chief in a country where the forts were without sol 
diers, ordnance without troops enough to guard it, 
towns without able-bodied men left in them; a colonial 
territory without laws or legislators, or communication 
with the home government, or even with the navy, 
for many months. "The army officers," writes one of 
them, "could have seized the large amount of funds in 
their hands, levied heavily on the country, and been 
living comfortably in New York for the last year, and 
not a soul at Washington be the wiser or worse for it. 
Indeed, such is the ease with which power can go un 
checked and crime unpunished in this region, that it 
will be hard for the officers to resist temptation ; for a 
salary here is certain poverty and debt, unless one 
makes up by big hauls." That temptations were not 
yielded to under these circumstances 25 redounds to the 
honorable repute of disbursing officers and collectors 
of the special war tax known afterward as the civil 

This was a duty levied on imports by the United 
States authorities in California during the military 
occupation of and previous to the extension of custom 
house laws over the country, 26 and amounted in 1849 
to $600,000. The custodian of this fund in 1848 at 
San Francisco was Assistant Quartermaster Captain 
J. L. Folsom, who was under no bonds, and account- 
relative to purchasing or receiving arms, clothing, etc., from deserters, in 
California Star, June 14, 1848. 

25 Reference to the Cal. Star and CaUfornian of Dec. 9 and 16, 1848, reveals 
the fact that Gov. Mason and his adjutant, Sherman, were driven by inade 
quate salaries to attempt some unofficial operations to eke out a living. 
Charles E. Pickett, who, whether he was on the banks of the Willamette, the 
shores of S. F. Bay, or among the peaks of the Sierra, was always critic-in-chief 
of the community afflicted with his presence, was the author of charges 
against these officers, and against Capt. Folsom, which had their foundation 
in these efforts. Sherman tells us in his Memoirs, 64-5, that Mason never 
speculated, although urged to do so; but did take a share in the store which 
Warner, Bestor, and I opened at Coloma, paid his share of the capital, $500, 
and received his share of the profits, $1,500. I think he also took a share in 
a venture to China with Lark in and others; but on leaving Cal. was glad to 
sell out without profit or loss. Com. Jones was convicted in 1851 of specu 
lating in gold-dust with govt funds, and sentenced to suspension from the 
navy for 5 years, with loss of pay for half that time. 

Gwin, Memoirs, MS., 40, 111; Crosby, Events in Cal, MS., 43. 


able to no one except his commanding officer. He 
was, in fact, collecting duties from American importers 
as if he were the servant of a foreign power, whereas 
he was, in that capacity, the servant of no power at 
all, there being no government existing in California 
after the 30th of May, 1848. The fund, however, 
proved a very convenient treasury to fall back upon 
during the no-government period, as we shall see here 
after. 27 

Notwithstanding the treaty, the opinion was preva 
lent that congress would fail to establish a territorial 
government, it being well understood that the question 
of slavery would obstruct the passage of a territorial 
bill , but the difficulties already referred to, with the 
necessity for mining laws and an alarming increase in 
crime, furnished sufficient ground on which the agi 
tators might reasonably demand an organization, or at 
least a governor and council, which they insisted that 
Mason, as commander of the United States forces, had 
the power to appoint. But Mason knew that while 
the president would willingly enough have conferred 
on him this power, had he himself possessed it, with 
out the consent of congress, no such authority existed 
anywhere out of congress ; and what the president could 
not do, he could not undertake. The agitators were 
thus compelled to wait to hear what action had been 
taken by congress before proceeding to take affairs in 
their own hands. 

The subject received a fresh impetus by the arrival 
in November of Commodore Jones, with whom Mason 
had a conference. It was agreed between them that 

27 There was no system of direct taxation existing in California before it 
become a state of the union. The only revenue Mexico derived from it was 
that produced by a high tariff on imports. The military contributions, as 
the U S govt was pleased to denominate this revenue, diverted to itself, 
have been the subject of much discussion. Dr Robert Semple, in an article in 
the Calif ornian of Oct 21, 1848, states that there was no show of right to col 
lect this tariff after the war had ceased, but that the ports, coasts, bays, and 
rivers of Upper California were as free as the island of Juan Fernandez, in 
point of fact, until the revenue laws of the U. S. were extended over them. 
But the collection went on, and the American shipping-masters and mer 
chants paid it 


should congress prove to have adjourned without pro 
viding a government for California, the people should 
be assisted to organize a temporary constitution for 
themselves, 28 and Mason was understood as promising 
to turn over to the provisional government the civil 
service fund, above alluded to, 29 for its expenses. 

Time passed, and the last vessel on which any com 
munications from Washington could be hoped for had 
arrived, while the agitators openly declared that the 
government evidently intended that they, its military 
officers, should have taken the responsibility of making 
matters easy for the people in the establishment of a 
civil organization, the inference being, that they were 
exercising unjustifiable power in impeding it. An 
agent was, however, actually on his way at that mo 
ment, who was commissioned to observe and report 
upon the character and disposition of the inhabitants, 
with a view to determining whether it were wise or 
not to encourage political movements in California, in 
the event of the struggle in congress over slavery be 
ing prolonged. The letter of instructions furnished to 
this agent 30 by Secretary Buchanan contained, indeed, 
no such admission. On the contrary, after expressing 
the regrets of the president that California had not 
received a territorial government, the secretary " ur 
gently advised the people of California to live peace 
ably and quietly under the existing government," 
consoling themselves with the reflection that it would 
endure but for a few months, or until the next session 
of congress. But to live peaceably and quietly under 
the government de facto, half Mexican and half mili- 

28 Calif onian, S F., Oct. 21, 1848; TutMl, Hist. Cal, 247. 

^Unbound Doc., MS., 140-1; Star and Califorman, Nov. 18, 1848. 

so William V. Voorhies was the agent employed by the postmaster-general 
to make arrangements for the establishing of post-offices, and for the trans 
mission, receipt, and conveyance of letters in Oregon and California. To him 
was intrusted the secretary s open message to the people of Cal., and such 
instructions as concerned more private matters. Buchanan s letter recog 
nizing the govt left at the termination of the war as still existing and valid, 
when not in contradiction to the constitution of the U. S., is found in Amer. 
Quart. Rey., iv. 510-13; and in Ex. Doc., i., accompanying the president s 
message at the 2d sess. of the 30th cong. 


tary, was what they had decided they were unable 
to do. Before the message arrived they had begun to 
act upon their own convictions, and were not likely to 
be turned back. 31 Meantime, to the population already 

31 Proofs of this were not lacking. Mrs Hetty C. Brown of S. F., having 
been deserted by her husband, applied to the governor for a divorce in Dec. 
1847. He decided that neither he nor any alcalde had the authority to grant 
a divorce; but gave it as his opinion that there being no law in Cal. on the 
subject of divorce, and she being left without any support, she might view 
her husband as dead, so far as she was concerned. Unbound Doc., MS., 137. 
Continual complaints were made of the alcaldes. Pickett wrote to Gen. 
Kearny, in March 1849, that John H. Nash, alcalde at Sonoma, was ignorant, 
conceited, and dogmatical, and governed by whims; he was also under the 
influence of a pettifogger named Green. The unrestricted powers assumed 
by these magistrates were laying the foundations for much litigation in the 
future when their decisions would be appealed from. J. S. Ruckel wrote to 
the gov. Dec. 28th on the affairs of the pueblo of San Jose" that matters which 
were originally bad are growing worse and worse large, portions of the popu 
lation lazy and addicted to gambling have no visible means of livelihood, and 
of course must support themselves by stealing cattle or horses .... Wanted, 
an alcalde who is not afraid to do his duty, and who knows what his duty is. 
On the other hand, there were complaints that Monterey was frequently visited 
by American desperadoes, who committed assaults on the native population, 
and defied the authorities. They were at last put down; some were shot on 
the spot, and some were afterwards disposed of by lynch law. Roach, Facts, 
on California, MS., 5. Charles White, alcalde of San Jose, wrote to Gov. 
Mason in March 1848, that he had received information of 60 men organizing, 
and daily receiving recruits, who had constant comnrinication with volun 
teers in the service, who had in view to soon attack the prison at Monterey 
and release the prisoners. They also have formed the plan of establishing 
an independent government in California. They are well armed; the good 
people of the country standing in fear of exposing these people, lest they 
might be killed in revenge. Unbound Doc., MS., 169. Immigrants had taken 
possession of the missions of San Jose and Santa Clara, injured the buildings, 
and destroyed the vineyards and orchards, having no respect to any part of 
them except the churches. At the same time wild Indians were making or 
ganized and successful raids on the stock belonging to Americans and immi 
grants, and were aided by the mission Indians. W. G. Dana writing from 
San Luis Obispo in June 1847, complained that society was reduced to the 
most horrid state. The whole place has for a long time past been a complete 
sink of drunkenness and debauchery. Murders were also reported by the 
alcalde. Affairs were a little less deplorable at the more southern missions, 
where lawless persons, both native and foreign, committed depredations on 
mission property everywhere. In July 1848 a meeting was held at S. F. to 
consider the question of currency, and a committee consisting of W. D. M. 
Howard, C. V. Gillespie, and James C. Ward presented to Gov. Mason the 
following resolutions: 1st. That the gov r be petitioned to appoint one or 
more assayers to test the quality of the gold taken from the placers on the 
Sacramento. 2d. That the gov r he asked to extend the time allowed for 
the redemption of the gold-dust, deposited as collateral security for payment 
of duties, to 6 months, so as to allow time for the importation of coined money 
into the country for that purpose. 3d. That the gov r be requested to ap 
point a competent person to superintend the conversion of gold into ingots of 
convenient weights, the same to be stamped with the name of the person fur 
nishing the gold to be cast; the weight, and if possible, its fineness, in refer 
ence to standard; the said officer to keep a record of all the gold cast, the 
expense of casting to be defrayed by the person furnishing the raw material. 


in the country were added a company of miners from 
the "state of Deseret," and several companies from the 
province of Oregon. These were all men who had 
supported independent governments; some of them 
had assisted in forming one, and regarded themselves 
as experienced in state-craft. There was also consid 
erable overland immigration in the autumn. 

The murder in the mining district of Mr Pomeroyand 
a companion in November, for the gold-dust they car 
ried, furnished the occasion seized upon by the Star and 
Calif omian of renewing the agitation for a civil govern 
ment. Meetings were held December 11, 1 8 4 8 , at San 
Jose; December 21st, at San Francisco; and at Sacra 
mento on the 6th and 8th of January, 1849. 32 The San 

Last resolution not carried. 4th. Appointment of a committee to petition 
congress to establish a mint in this town the petition to be circulated in the 
Sacramento Valley and elsewhere for signatures. The said committee to 
consist of C. V. Gillespie, James C. Ward, W. D. M. Howard, and Capt. 
Joseph L. Folsom, U. S. A. M., 136-7. 

32 The meeting was held at the alcalde s office in San Jose, Charles White 
in the chair; James Stokes, Maj. Thomas Campbell, Julius Martin, vice-prests; 
P. B. Cornwall, William L. Beeles, sees; Capt. K. H. Dimmick, Ord, Ben 
jamin Cory, Myron Norton, and J. D. Hoppe were appointed a committee to 
frame resolutions. The meeting was addressed by O. C. Pratt of 111. A con 
vention was appointed for the 2d Monday in Jan., and Dimmick, Cory, and 
Hoppe elected delegates. Star and Californian, Dec. 23, 1848. Reports of 
these meetings are contained in the A ltd California, then published by Edward 
Gilbert, Edward Kemble, and George C. Hubbard, and supporting the provis 
ional govt movement. Of the Sac. meetings Peter H. Burnett, who had been 
judge and legislator in Oregon, and helped to form the Oregon laws, was 
president. The vice-prests were Frank Bates and M. D. Winship; and the 
sacs Jeremiah Sherwood and George McKinstry. A committee consisting 
of Samuel Brannan, John S. Fowler, John Sinclair, P. B. Reading, and Bar 
ton Lee was appointed to frame a set of resolutions which should express the 
sense of the meeting. These resolutions recited that congress had not ex 
tended the laws of the U. S. over the country, as recommended by the prest, 
but had left it without protection; that the frequency of robberies and mur 
ders had deeply impressed the people with the necessity of having some reg 
ular form of government, with laws and officers to enforce them; that the 
discovery of gold would attract immigration from all parts of the world, and 
add to the existing danger and confusion; therefore, that trusting to the govt 
and people of the U. S. for sanction, it was resolved that it was not only 
proper but necessary that the inhabitants of Cal. should form a provisional 
govt and administer the same; and that while lamenting the inactivity of 
congress in their behalf, they still desired to manifest their confidence in and 
loyalty to the U. S. r ihe proceedings of the San Jose and S. F. meetings 
were concurred in, and the people were recommended to hold meetings and 
elect delegates to represent them in a convention to be held March Cth at 
San Jose for the purpose of draughting a form of govt to be submitted to the 
people for their sanction. A meeting was appointed to take place on the 15th 
to elect 5 delegates from that district to the convention at San Jose. A com 
mittee was chosen by the prest to correspond with the other districts; namely, 


Jose meeting recommended that the convention assem 
ble at that place on the second Monday of January; 
the San Francisco meeting, that the convention should 
assemble on the 5th day of March; but on the 24th 
of January the corresponding committee of San Fran 
cisco notified a postponement of the convention to the 
6th of May. 33 The reasons given for the change of 
date were the inclemency of the weather, making it 
difficult to communicate with the southern districts; 
and recent intelligence from the United States, from 
which it appeared probable that congress would organ 
ize a territorial government before the adjournment of 
the session ending March 4th. A month being al 
lowed for the receipt of information, 34 there could be no 
further objection to the proposed convention should 
congress again disappoint them. All these circum 
stances together operated to defeat the movement for 
a convention. The Sacramento delegates, Charles E. 
Pickett and John Sinclair, protested against a change 
of time, but the majority prevailed, and the conven- 

Frank Bates, P. B. Reading, and John S. Fowler. Frank Bates, Barton Lee, 
and Albert Priest were appointed judges of the election of delegates. A res 
olution was offered by Sam Brannan that the delegates be instructed to 
oppose slavery in every shape and form in the territory of California, which 
was adopted. Burnett, RecoLL, 295-8. The meeting at S. F. was presided 
over by John Townsend; William S. Clark and J. C. Ward were chosen vice- 
prests, and William M. Smith and S. S. Howison sees. The committee on 
resolutions consisted of Edward Gilbert, George Hyde, B. R. Buckelew, 
Henry A. Schoolcraft, Myron Norton, Henry M. Naglee, and James Creigh- 
ton. They reported on the 23d, and their resolutions were adopted. Gilbert, 
Ward, Hyde, Toler, and Davis were appointed judges of election. Buckelew 
moved that duties collected at all ports in Cal., after the ratification of the 
treaty of peace in Aug., rightfully belonged to Cal.; and furthermore, that as 
the U. S. congress had not provided a government for the people of the ter 
ritory, such duties as have been collected since the disbandment of the ex 
traordinary military force justly belongs to the people of this territory, and 
should be claimed for our benefit by the govt we may succeed in creating. 
Adopted after some debate; Gilbert, Ward, and Hyde were appointed corre 
sponding committee. Star and Californian, Dec. 23, 1848. 

83 Alta Calif brnia, Jan. 24, 1849; S. F. Minutes Proceedinys Legis. Assem., 
etc., 296 (no. 1, in 8. F. Hist. Inc., etc.). Meetings were held at Santa Cruz and 
Monterey to elect delegates to the convention in May. Santa Cruz delegates 
were William Blackburn, J. L. Majors, Eli Moore, John Dobindiss, J. G. S. 
Dunleavy, Henry Speal, and Juan Gonzales. Arch. Sta Cruz, 102. Walter 
Colton draughted the resolutions for the Monterey meeting. Colton, Three. 
Years, 393; An. S. F., 136; Mendocino Co. Hist., 269-319. 

34 The ocean mail steamers were announced to commence their regular 
trips between Panama and California and Oregon early in the spring. 


tion was finally postponed to the first Monday of 
August, 35 when, should congress not then have created 
a territorial government for California, there should 
be no further delay in organizing a provisional gov 
ernment. In the mean time event crowded on the 
heels of event, changing the purposes of the people as 
their condition changed. 

With the expiration of 1848 expired also the term 
of the town council of San Francisco which Mason 
had authorized in August of the previous year. By 
a municipal law, an election for their successors was 
held on the 27th of December, when seven new coun- 
cilmen were chosen. The former council 36 declared the 
election fraudulent and void, and ordered a new one. 
A majority of the population opposed this unwarrant 
able assumption of power, and refused to attend, but 
an election was held and another council chosen. 
Until the 15th of January, when the old council voted 
itself out of existence, three town governments were 
in operation at the same time, and the two remaining 
ones for some weeks longer. Wearied and exasper 
ated by the confusion in their affairs, the people of 
San Francisco district called a meeting on the 12th 
of February, at which it was resolved to elect a legis 
lative assembly of fifteen members, who should be 
empowered to make such necessary laws "as did not 
conflict with the constitution of the United States, 
nor the common law thereof." 37 This legislative body 

35 This postponement was made in a communication addressed to the AUa 
Cal of March 22d, signed by the following delegates: W. M. Steuart, 
Myron Norton, Francis J. Lippitt, from S. F.; Charles T. Bolts, Monterey; 
J. D. Stevenson, Los Angeles; R. Semple, Benicia; John B. Frisbie and M. 
G. Vallejo, Sonoma; S. Brannan, J. A. Sutter, Samuel J. Hensley, and P. B. 
Reading, from Sac. 

36 Refer to note 11, this chapter, for names. 

37 M. Norton presided at the meeting of the 12th, and T. W. Perkins acted 
as sec y. The preamble to the ordinances established by the meeting recited 
that the people of S. F., perceiving the necessity of having some better de 
fined and more permanent civil regulations for our general security than the 
vague, unlimited, and irresponsible authority that now exists, do, in general 
convention assembled, hereby establish and ordain. Then follow the regu 
lations. AUa Cat., Feb. 15, 1849. 


also appointed an election of three justices of the peace, 
abolished the office of alcalde, his books and papers 
being ordered to be resigned to one of the justices; 
and abolished both the town councils, the members 
being commanded to send their resignations to a com 
mittee appointed to receive them. 38 The election of 
the legislative assembly and justices was ordered for 
the 21st of the month, and took place; but as there 
was no actual power in the legislature to enforce its 
acts, the new government threatened to prove as pow 
erless for good as its predecessor. The alcalde Leav- 
enworth refused to relinquish the town records 39 to 
the chief magistrate, Norton, as directed ; and such was 
the pressure of private business that it was found 
difficult to procure a quorum at the meetings of the 
legislature. To correct the latter defect in the govern 
ment, the members were added to the assembly in 
May, and the offices of register, sheriff, and treasurer 

On the 26th of February, five days after the first 
election of assemblymen, there arrived at San Fran 
cisco the mail steamer California, having on board 
General Persifer F. Smith, who as commander of the 
military division of California superseded Colonel 
Mason. Smith blundered, as military men are prone 
to do in managing civil affairs. He wrote to the 
secretary of war from Panamji that he was "partly 
inclined to think it would be right for me to prohibit 
foreigners from taking the gold, unless they intend to 
become citizens." Next he wrote to the consuls on 
South American coast "that the laws of the United 
States forbade trespassing on the public lands," and 
that on arriving in California he should enforce this 
law against persons not citizens. To the secretary he 
again wrote: "I shall consider every one not a citizen 
of the United States, who enters on public land and 
digs for gold, as a trespasser, and shall enforce that 

38 The eommitteemen were Alfred J. Ellis, Wm F. Swasey, B. K. Bucke- 
lew, and George Hyde. Burnett, fiecoll., 310. 
3 *Fmdla t Statement, MS., 10. 


view of the matter if possible, depending upon the 
distinction made in favor of American citizens to en- 

fage the assistance of the latter in carrying out what 
propose. All are undoubtedly trespassers ; but as 
congress has hitherto made distinctions in favor of 
early settlers by granting preemptions, the difficulties 
of present circumstances in California may justify for 
bearance with regard to citizens, to whom some favor 
may be hereafter granted." 

This doctrine of trespass furnished the Hounds, an 
organized band of Australian criminals and deserting 
English sailors, with their only apology for robbing 
every Mexican 01 Californian they met, upon the 
ground that they were foreigners, at least not citizens; 
and passports had actually to be furnished to these 
people in the land where they were born. 40 The 
Hounds did not long remain, but had their conge from 
the authorities civil and military. 

To General Smith the legislature of San Francisco 
district addressed a letter inviting his sympathy and 
support, to which he returned a noncommittal reply, 
without attempting to interfere with the operations of 
the experimental government. There was no exigency 
requiring him to intermeddle while awaiting the action 
of congress, drawing to a close, and the incoming of a 
new national administration whose policy was yet un 
known. The community in general supporting the 
assembly, the sheriff, furnished by Judge Xorton with 
a writ of replevin, and assisted by a number of volun 
teer deputies, finally compelled Alcalde Leavenworth 
to surrender the records, which were deposited in the 
court-house, where justice was hereafter to be admin 
istered. This did not occur, however, before the in 
action of congress had become known, and California 
had received another governor. 

I think the American inhabitants of California 
exhibited great and undeserved animosity toward 

"Ex. Doc., 311, no. 17, p. 703-6, 708-10, 869, 870; Amer< Quart. Reg., ii. 

HIST. CAT,., VOL. VI. 18 


Colonel Mason in his position as governor. They 
failed to remember that it required as much patience 
in him to govern them, as it did in them to be governed 
by him. Into his ear for nearly two years had been 
poured an incessant stream of complaints from both 
the natives and themselves Quite often enough they 
had been in the wrong If they did not steal horses 
and cattle like the Indians, or rob and assassinate like 
the Mexicans, they had other ways of being selfish 
and unchristian not to say criminal which made 
bad blood in those ruder people. He did the best he 
could between them all. Had his soldiers not ab 
sconded to the gold mines, even then he would have 
required ten times their number to keep up a police 
system throughout the country. Only law can reach 
to every part of a territory, but to do that it must be 
organized; and here was just where Mason s delin 
quencies were most flagrant. He was not an execu 
tive officer according to law, but a military governor, 
which as they reasoned was an offence in time of peace. 
That he was only obeying instructions, and that he 
had leaned to their side while executing his trust, did 
not serve to soften the asperity of their judgment, and 
no friendly regrets were expressed when his successor 
relieved him of his thankless office. 41 He left Califor 
nia on the 1st of May, and died of cholera at St Louis 
the same summer, at the age of sixty years. 42 

41 The orders of Gen. Smith were dated Nov. 15, 1848, and ran as follows: 
* By direction of the prest, you are hereby assigned, under and by virtue of 
your rank of brev. brig. -gen. of the army of the U. S., to the command of 
the third geographical or Pacific division, and will proceed by way of New 
Orleans, thence to Chagres, and across the isthmus of Panama to Cal., and 
assume the command of the said division. You will establish your head 
quarters either in Cal. or Or., and change them from time to time, as the 
exigencies of the public service may require. Besides the general duties of 
clafanding the territories of Cal. and Or., and of preserving peace arid protect 
ing the inhabitants from Indian depredations, you will carry out the orders 
and instructions contained in the letter from the department to Col R. B. 
I.Iason, a copy of which you are herewith furnished, and such other orders 
au:l instructions as you may receive from your govt. H. Ex. Doc., 31, 1, no. 
17, p. 2G4-5. 

42 Sherman in his Memoirs, 64, says: He possessed a strong native intel 
lect, and far more knowledge of the principles of civil government and law 
than he got credit for; and he was the very embodiment of the principle of 
fidelity to the interests of the gen. govt. 


On the 12th of April the transport ship Iowa landed 
at Monterey brevet Brigadier-general Bennett Riley, 43 
lieutenant-colonel 2d infantry, with his brigade. 44 
Riley had instructions from the secretary of war to 
assume the administration of civil affairs in California, 
not as a military governor, but as the executive of the 
existing civil government. According to contempo 
rary accounts, he was a "grim old fellow," and a "fine 
free swearer." 45 According to his own statement he 
was not much acquainted with civil affairs, but knew 
how to obey orders. He also knew how to make 
others obey orders except in California. Here his 
soldiers soon deserted, 46 leaving him without the 
means of enforcing the laws. In this dilemma his 
good sense came to his aid, and on the 3d of June, 
having sent the steamer Edith to Mazatlan for the 
necessary intelligence, and learning that nothing had 
been done by congress toward the establishment of a 
territorial government, he issued a proclamation show 
ing that he had lost no time in improving his knowl 
edge of civil affairs. He endeavored to remove the 
prejudice against a military government by putting 
it out of sight; and proposed a scheme of civil gov 
ernment, which he assured them should be temporary, 
but which while it existed must be recognized. The 
laws of California, not inconsistent with the laws, 
constitution, and treaties of the United States, he 
declared to be in force until changed by competent 
authority, which did not exist in a provisional legisla- 

"Larldn, Doc., MS., vi. 203; Aug. Arch., MS., iii. 245, 246,272; H. Ex. 
Doc., 31, 1, no. 17, p. 873; Willey, Personal Memoranda, MS., 119; Hyde, 
Statement, MS., 12; Capran, Cal, 44; Tinkham, Hist. Stockton, 120; Hist. 
Los Angeles, 46; Sol. Co. Hist., 438; Sherman, Mem., i. 10. 

4i The brigade, 650 strong, was officered as follows: Lieut Hay den, com 
manding officer of Co. H; Turner, surgeon; adjutant, Jones, com d g Cos. C 
and G; Lieut A. Sully, regimental quartermaster and commissary, com d g 
Co. K; Lieut Murray, Co. J; Lieut Schareman, Co. A; Lieut Jarvis, Co. B; 2d 
Lieut Hendershot, Co. F; 2d Lieut Johnson, Co. E; 2d Lieut Sweeny, Co. D. 
N. Y. Herald, Sept 19, 1848, in Niles Reg., Ixxiv. 193. 

** Foster s Angeles in 1847, MS., 17-18. He had a defect in his speech, and 
was 55 or 56 years old. Val., Doc., MS., 35, 116; S. D. Arch., MS., ii. 349; 
Neal, Vig. Com., MS., 23. 

46 Crosby, Statement, MS., 30-2; Burnett, Recoil, 333-4. 


ture. The situation of California was not identical 
with that of Oregon, which was without laws until a 
provisional government was formed; but was nearly 
identical with that of Louisiana, whose laws were 
recognized as valid until constitutionally repealed. 
He proposed to put in vigorous operation the existing 
laws as designed by the central government, but to 
give an American character to the administration by 
making the officers of the law elective instead of ap 
pointive; and at the same time proposed a convention 
of delegates from every part of the territory to form 
a state constitution or territorial organization, to be 
ratified by the people and submitted to congress for 
approval. A complete set of Mexican officials was 
named in the proclamation, with the salaries of each 
and the duration of their term of office. 

The first election was ordered for August 1st, when 
also delegates to the convention were to be elected. 
The officers chosen would serve until January 1, 1850 
The convention would meet September 1st. A regu 
lar annual election would be held in November, to 
choose members of the territorial assembly, and to fill 
the offices temporarily supplied by the election of 
August 1st. The territory was divided into ten dis 
tricts for the election of thirty-seven delegates, ap 
portioned as follows: San Diego two, Los Angeles 
four, Santa Barbara two, San Luis Obispo two, Mon 
terey five, San Jose five, San Francisco five, Sonoma 
four, Sacramento four, and San Joaquin four. 47 

Such was the result of Riley s civil studies. 48 The 
people could not see, however, what constitutional 
power the president had to govern a territory by ap 
pointing a military executive in time of peace, or any 
at all before the Mexican laws had been repealed; 
much less what right the secretary of war had to in- 

* 7 Debates ConstU. CaL, 3-5; Cr&nise, Nat. Wealth, 58-9; Hittell, S. F. t 
140-1; LarTdn, Doc., MS., vii. 137; Val, Doc., MS., 35, 124; San Luis Ob. 
Arch., MS., sec. i.; Savage, Doc., MS., ii. 85; Any. Arch., MS., iii. 249-66; 
Placer Times, June 23, 1849. 

i8 Gen. Riley publicly acknowledged the efficient aid rendered him by 
Capt. H. W. Halleck, his sect, of state. 


struct General Hiley to act as civil governor. And 
perhaps their reasoning was as good as the general s, 
when he declared they had no right to legislate for 
themselves without the sanction of congress. This 
question had been argued at some length in the A Ita 
California about the time of Riley s arrival by Peter 
H. Burnett, who had come down from Oregon with 
the gold-hunters from the north in 1848, and whose 
experience with the provisional government of the 
American community on the Columbia made him a 
sort of umpire. 

On the day following the above proclamation the 

Governor issued another, addressed to the people of 
an Francisco, which reached them on the 9th, in 
which he declared that "the body of men styling 
themselves the legislative assembly of San Francisco 
has usurped powers which are vested only in the con 
gress of the United States." Both were printed in 
Spanish as well as English, for circulation among the 
inhabitants, and produced no small excitement, taken 
in connection with the arrival of the mail steamer on 
the 4th with the news of the failure of congress to 
provide a government, aggravated by the extension of 
the revenue laws over California and the appointment 
of a collector. 49 Taxation without representation was 
not to be borne; and straightway a public meeting 
had been held, and an address prepared by a committee 
of the legislative assembly, of which Burnett was chair 
man, protesting against the injustice. Among other 
things, it declared that "the legislative assembly of 
the district of San Francisco have believed it to be 
their duty to earnestly recommend to their fellow- 

49 James Collier was appointed collector of customs and special depositary 
of moneys at S. F., in March 1849 He came overland, and did not arrive 
until late in the autumn. No moneys were ever deposited with him. The 
act mentioned established ports of delivery at San Diego and Monterey, and 
a port of entry at S. F. Mies Reg,, Ixxv. 193; Cal. Statute*, 1850, app. 38; 
U. 8. Acts and Res,, 70-5, 107-8, 30th Cong., 2J Sess.; Hunt s Merck, Mag,, 
xxiii. 663-5. King succeeded Collier in May 1851, at S. F., and did act as a 
depositary, the sums collected being deposited with himself. U. S. Sen. Doc. , 
99, vol. x., 32d Cong., 1st Sess. Major Snyder was appointed collector in 1853, 
and remained in office until 1862. Sivasey s Remarks on Snyder, MS., 15-16. 


citizens the propriety of electing twelve delegates from 
each district to attend a general convention to be held 
at the pueblo de San Jose on the third Monday of 
August next, for the purpose of organizing a govern 
ment for the whole territory of California. We would 
recommend that the delegates be intrusted with large 
discretion to deliberate upon the best measures to be 
taken; and to form, if they upon mature consideration 
should deem it advisable, a state constitution, to be 
submitted to the people for their ratification or rejec 
tion by a direct vote at the polls. . . . From the best 
information both parties in congress are anxious that 
this should be done; and there can exist no doubt of 
the fact that the present perplexing state of the ques 
tion at Washington would insure the admission of 
California at once. We have the question to settle 
for ourselves; and the sooner we do it, the better." 
It so happened that this address, which had been sub 
mitted to and adopted by the assembly previous to the 
promulgation of Biley s proclamation, was published 
in the Alta June 14th, five days after, making it ap 
pear, but for the explanation given by the editor, like 
a carefully designed defiance of the authority of the 

Three days after the proclamation addressed to the 
people of San Francisco was received, a mass meeting 
in favor of a convention for forming a state constitu 
tion was held in Portsmouth square, presided over by 
William M. Steuart. 50 Resolutions were passed de 
claring the right of the people of the territory, the 
last congress having failed them, to organize for their 
own protection, and to elect delegates to a convention 
to form a state government, "that the great and grow 
ing interests of California may be represented in the 

The vice-prests were William D. M. Howard, E. H. Harrison, C. V. Gilles- 
pie, Robert A. Parker, Myron Norton, Francis J Lippett, J. H. Merrill, 
George Hyde, William Hooper, Hiram Grimes, John A. Patterson, C. H. 
Johnson, William H. Davis, Alfred Ellis, Edward Gilbert, and John Towns- 
end. The secretaries were E. Gould Buffum, J. R. Per Lee, and W. C. 


next congress of the United States." A committee 
was appointed to correspond with the other districts, 
and fix an early day for the election of delegates and 
for the convention, as also to determine the number 
of delegates, the committee consisting of P. H. Bur 
nett, W. D. M. Howard, M. Norton, E. G. Buffum, 
and E. Gilbert. A motion to amend a resolution, 
by adopting the days appointed by the governor, was 
rejected. The meeting was addressed by Burnett, 
Thomas Butler King, congressman from Georgia and 
confidential agent of the government, William M. 
Gwin, a former congressman from Mississippi, and 
others. King had been sent out to work up the state 
movement, 51 which he was doing in conjunction with 
the governor; and Gwin had come out on the same 
steamer to become a senator from California. He 
addressed the people of Sacramento, July 4th, and 
on the following day a mass meeting at Fowler s 
hotel, and resolutions passed to cooperate with San 
Francisco and the other districts in forming a civil 
government. 52 At a meeting held July 4th at Mor 
mon Island, W. C. Bigelow in the chair, 53 and James 
Queen secretary, resolutions were adopted declaring 
that in consequence of the failure of congress to pro 
vide a government, the separation of this country 
from the mother country has been loudly talked of; 
but pledging themselves "to discountenance every 
effort at separation, or any movement that may tend 
to counteract the action of the general government 
in regard to California." Also that believing slavery 
to be injurious, they would do everything in their 

bl Bufum, Six Months, 118; H Ex. Doc., 31, 1, no. 17, p. 9-11. 

^Gwin, Memoirs, MS., 5. M. M. McCarver, the old brass gun of the 
Oregon legislature, presided at this meeting. George McKinstry was sec. 
C. E. Pickett, Chapman, and Carpenter constituted a committee to draught res 
olutions. A com. of J2 was appointed to organize the district into precincts, 
and apportion the representatives, and to nominate candidates. Correspond 
ing com. appointed. Committee of 12 was composed of P. B. Cornwall, Car 
penter, Blackburn, J. R. Robb, Mark Stewart, John Fowler, C. E. Pickett, 
Sam. Brannan, John McDougal, Samuel Housley, M. T. McClellan, and Col 

33 Placer Times, July 9, 1849, 


power to prevent its extension to this country. Taking 
alarm at some of these proceedings, Riley gave utter 
ance to his views in the Alta, declaring that instruc 
tions received since his proclamations fully confirmed 
the policy there set forth, and that it was distinctly 
said that "the plan of establishing an independent 
government in California cannot be sanctioned, no 
matter from what source it may come." The phrase 
independent government drew forth a reply from 
Burnett disclaiming any design on the part of the 
agitators of a civil organization to erect a government 
not dependent on the United States, and repelling 
as a libel the insinuation contained in the governor s 
communication that the people of San Francisco had 
ever contemplated becoming "the sport and play of 
the great powers of the world," which they would be 
should they attempt a separate existence. The Alia 
also denied the charge in a subsequent issue; and the 
committee of which Burnett was chairman having 
published a notice making the day of election and 
convention conformable to the governor s appoint 
ments, while asserting their perfect right to do other 
wise, there was a lull in the political breeze for the 
intervening period. 54 

In the mean time San Francisco had received a post 
master, John W. Geary, 55 who in spite of the preju- 

Cal, July 12 and 19, 1849; Capron, 43-4; U. S. H. Misc. Doc., 44, 
i., p. 5-9, 31st cong., 1st sess. At a mass meeting in Sac., that district was 
declared entitled to 10 delegates. Placer Times (Sac.), July 14, 1849. 

55 Unbound Docs., MS., 58. John W. Geary was born in Westmoreland 
co., Pa, in 1820. He had been col of a reg. from his state in the Mexican 
war, and fought at the battles of La Hoya, Chapultepec, Garita de Belen, and 
city of Mexico. His duties as alcalde were those of mayor, sheriff, probate 
and police judge, recorder, coroner, and notary public. After the appoint 
ment of W. B. Almond, a man of fair legal attainments from Missouri, who 
was at his request made judge of first instance, with civil jurisdiction, his 
duties were less complex. Geary was reelected in 1850, with only 12 votes 
against him in 4,000. He was a splendid-looking man, cordial and affable. 
He returned to Pa in 1852, and was appointed governor of Kansas. He served 
in the civil war as col of the 28th regt Pa vols. His death occurred at Har- 
risburg, Feb. 8, 1873. An. ofS. F., 718-34; Sac. Record, Feb. 10, 1873; Oak 
land Gazette, Feb. 15, 1873; Nevada Transcript, Feb. 11, 1873; Oakland 
Transcript, Feb. 9, 1873; Folsom Telegraph, Apr. 4, 1868; Alpine Silver Moun 
tain Chronicle, Feb. 15, 1873; Albany Register, Feb. 14, 1873; Hittell, S. F., 
139; AUa California, Jan. 9, 1866, and Feb. 9, 1873; Upham, Rem. of Pioneer 


dice at once manifested against imported officials, 
achieved a popularity which obtained for him the 
office of first alcalde, or judge of the first instance, 
at the election, and which kept him in office after a 
change of government had been effected. 58 

In July, T. Butler King, in his character of confi 
dential agent of the government, paid a visit to the 
mining districts. He travelled in state, accompanied 
by General Smith and staff, Commodore Jones and 
staff, Dr Tyson, geologist, and a cavalry detachment 
under Lieutenant Stoneman, who afterward became a 
general. 67 He made an extended tour, and a report in 

Journalism, in Advertisers Guide, 105, Dec. 1876; S. F. vs U. S., 1854, docs. 
22, 23; S. F. Call, Nov. 9, 1884; Pierces Rough Sketch, MS., 188-9; Auburn 
Placer Argus, Feb. 15, 1873; S. F. Elevator, Feb. 15, 1873. 

66 1 find the following officers under military govt in 1 848-9, mentioned 
in Viilwuwl Docs., MS., 319-40- James W. Weeks, K. H. Dimmick, alcaldes, 
San Jose; Estevan Addison, alcalde, Sta Barbara; Isaac Callahan, alcalde, 
Los Angeles, 1848. In 1849, William Myers, alcalde; and Albert G. Toomes 
and David Plemmons, judges in the upper north California district; John T. 
Richardson, alcalde, San Jose; Stephen Cooper, Benicia; Dennis Gahagan, 
alcalde, San Diego; J. L. Majors, subprefect at Santa Cruz; Miguel Avila, al 
calde, San Luis Obispo; R. M. May, alcalde, San Jose; A. M. White, alcalde, 
Mercedes River; G. D. Dickerson, prefect of the district of San Joaquin; 
Charles P. Wilkins, prefect of Sonoma; W. B. Almond, alcalde, S. F. (asso 
ciate of Geary), Horace Hawes, prefect of S. F. district; Paciricus Ord, judge 
of supreme tribunal; Lewis Dent, ditto; John E. Townes, high-sheriff of S. F. 
district; Edward H. Harrison, collector at S. F. ; Rodman M. Price, purser 
and navy agent, and chairman of town council committee; Philip A. Roach, 
in his Facts on Cal., MS., 7-8, mentions being elected to the offices of 1st 
alcalde and recorder of Monterey, in Oct. 1849. From other docs. Ignacio 
Ezquer, 1st alcalde, Monterey; Jacinto Rodriguez, 2d alcalde, Monterey; Jose 
Maria Covarrubias and Augustin Janssen, jueces de paz; Antoiiio Maria Pico, 
prefect of northern Cal. district; N. B. Smith and Wellner, subprefects. 

57 Crosby gives quite a particular account of this official progress through 
the country. King, he says, nearly lost his life by it, through his inability 
to adapt himself to the customs of border life. He would rise in the morn 
ing after the sun was well up, and after making an elaborate toilet, having 
his boots blacked, and dressing as if going to the senate-chamber, would then 
take breakfast, and by the time he was ready to start, it would be 8 or 9 
o clock, the sun would be hot, and the marches made in the worst part of the 

day Gen. Smith said to him: "Not only you, but all the rest of the party, 

are rendering yourselves liable to fever and sickness .... We ought to go in 
the early morning, and lie by in the middle of the day. " But King would 
not agree to this. I felt premonitions of a fever coming on, and took my 
leave of the party, and made my way to Sutter s Fort, ami was laid up three 
or four weeks with a fever. The party went down to the South Fork, and 
then over to the Mokelumne, to the southern mines. King brought up at 
S. F., and came near losing his life with a fever. Events in Cal., M.S., 29-30; 
Letter of Lieut Cadwalder Rim/gold, in H. Ex. Doc., 31, 1, no. 17, pp. 954-5; 
Placer Times, July 14 and Aug. 1, 1849. 


which he gave a very flattering account of the mines, 
and reiterated what the reader already knows concern 
ing the people their anxiety for a government which 
they could recognize, and its causes; namely, igno 
rance of Mexican laws, and their oppressive nature 
when understood; the absence of any legal system of 
taxation to provide the means of supporting a govern 
ment; the imposition of import duties by the United 
States, without representation; and the uncertainty 
of titles, with other things of less importance. 

After reporting the action of the people in their 
efforts to correct some of these evils, and that they 
had resolved upon the immediate formation of a state 
government, he further remarked that " they consid 
ered they had a right to decide, so far as they were 
concerned, the question of slavery, and believed that 
in their decision they would be sanctioned by all par 
ties." King declared that he had no secret instruc 
tions, verbal or written, on the subject of slavery; 
" nor was it ever hinted or intimated to me that I 
was expected to attempt to influence their action in 
the slightest degree on that subject." " In the elec 
tion of delegates," he said, "no questions were asked 
about a candidate s politics; the object was to find 
competent men." But of the thirty-seven delegates, 
sixteen were from the slave-holding states, ten from 
the free states, and eleven were native citizens of 
California, all but one of whom came from districts 
south of the Missouri compromise line of 36 30 . 
The convention therefore would have a presumptive 
majority of twenty-seven leaning toward the south. 58 
This was not the actual proportion after the election, 
forty-eight members being chosen, the additional dele 
gates being from the mining districts and San Fran 
cisco, where the population was greatest. Twenty-two 
were then from the northern states, fifteen from the 
slave states, seven native Californians, and four for 
eign born. 

58 King s rept, in H. Ex, Doc., 31, 1, no. 59, pp. 1-6; Green s Life, and 
Adv., 21. 


King was one of those anomalous individuals a 
northern man with a southerner s views. Born and 
reared in Pennsylvania, he went early in life to 
Georgia, and marrying a woman of that state, be 
came infected with the state-rights doctrine, and in 
1838 was elected to congress as its representative. 
As a whig he supported Harrison and Tyler in 1840, 
and Taylor and Fillmore in 1848, and advocated lead 
ing whig measures. But the virus of slavery with 
which he was inoculated developed itself later in 
secession, which made an end of all his greatness. 
While laboring to bring California into the union, he 
had in view the division of the territory by congress, 
and that all south of 36 30 should be devoted to 
slavery. This was to be the price of the admission 
of California, or any part of it. Under this belief he 
was willing to be and was useful to the people of 
California in their efforts to obtain a civil govern 
ment. The administration paid him well for his ser 
vices, and rewarded him with the office of collector of 
customs. If the people would willingly have had no 
more of him they had their reasons. 59 

59 King made an ass of himself, generally. Crane relates with much gusto 
the following as illustrative of King s character. When the custom-house 
was burned in the great fire of 1861, King had occasion to remove the treas 
ure from a vault in the ruins to the corner of Washington and Kearny streets, 
and assembled his force of employes to act as guard. They came together, 
armed with cutlasses, pistols, etc., and a cart being loaded, formed a line, 
himself at the head, leading off with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the 
other. In this manner several cart-loads were escorted to the place of deposit. 
When the last train was en route, some wags induced the waiters of a public 
eating-house to charge upon it with knives, when some of the guard ran 
away, King, however, holding his ground. Past, Present, and Future, MS., 
12. Some one had a caricature of the proceedings lithographed, and entitled 
* Ye King and ye Commones, or ye Manners and Customes of California a 
new farce lately enacted in May 28, 1851. 8. F. Alia, May 29, 30, 1851. 
Gwin attacked Taylor s administration for the expense of King s mission, say 
ing he had at his disposal the army, navy, and treasury. There was much 
truth in the declaration. His pay was $8 per diem; he was drawing pay as a 
member of congress, although he subsequently resigned, and the officers of 
the army and navy were enjoined to in all matters aid and assist him in 
carrying out the views of the government, and be guided by his advice and 
council in the conduct of all proper measures within the scope of those [his] 
instructions. But the government had a right to employ all its means for an 
object. H. Ex. Doc., 31, 1, no. 17, p. 146; Cong. Globe, 1851-2; App , 534-6. 
King went with the southern states when they seceded, and was sent as a 
commissioner to Europe. He died at his home in Georgia May 10, 1864. 
S. F. Call, June 20, 1864. 


Affairs moved on with occasional disturbances to 
the public peace, which were suppressed in San Fran 
cisco by a popular court, and in the outlying districts 
by military authority. 60 The election of August 1st 
for delegates to the constitutional convention, and 
municipal officers, 61 passed without disturbance, and 
preparations began to be made for the convention 
itself, which was to be held at Monterey. But now 
it was found that such was the pressing nature of 
private business, such the expense and inconvenience 
of a journey to the capital from the northern and 
southern districts, that some doubt began to be enter 
tained of the presence of the delegates. King, who 
had the principal management of affairs, overcame this 
difficulty by directing Commodore Jones to send the 
United States steamer Edith to San Diego, Los An 
geles, and Santa Barbara, to bring the southern dele 
gates to Monterey; 62 while the northern delegates 
chartered the brig Fremont to carry them from San 
Francisco. The Edith was wrecked on the passage, 
and the Fremont narrowly escaped the same fate. All 
arrived safely at their destination, however, and were 
ready to organize on the 3d of September 

Never in the history of the world did a similar con 
vention come together. They were there to form a 
state out of unorganized territory; out of territory 
only lately wrested from a subjugated people, who 
were elected to assist in framing a constitution in con 
formity with the political views of the conquerors. 
These native delegates were averse to the change 
about to be made. They feared that because they were 
large land-owners they would have the burden of 

^Riley, Order No. 22, to commander of posts, to investigate outrages. 
Savage, Coll., MS., iii. 36; U. S. Sen. Doc., 52, xiii. p. 12-41; 31st Cong., 1st 
Sess.; H. Ex. Doc., 5, p. i. pp. 156, 161, 165-78, 31st Cong., 1st Sess. 

61 Peter H. Burnett was elected chief justice, Jose M. Covarrubias, Pacifi- 
cus Ord, and Louis Dent were chosen associate judges. Alcaldes were elected 
in the several districts. 

62 The Edith was commanded by Lieut McCormick, who knew little of the 
coast, and being bewildered in a fog, lost the steamer. Letter of Commodore 
Jones, inH. Ex. Doc., 31, 1, no. 17, pp. 951-2; Cong. Globe, 1851-2, 535, 578; 
Napa Register, April 20, 1872. 


supporting the new government laid upon their shoul 
ders, and naturally feared other innovations painful 
to their feelings because opposed to their habits of 
thought. These very apprehensions forced them to be 
come the representatives of their class, in order to avert 
as much as possible the evils they foreboded. Such 
men as Vallejo, Carrillo, and De la Guerra could not 
be ignored, though they spoke only through an inter 
preter. Carrillo was from one of the southern districts, 
a pure Castilian, of decided character, and prejudiced 
against the invaders. De la Guerra was perhaps the 
most accomplished and best educated of the Spanish 
delegation, and had no love for the Americans, although 
he accepted his place among them, and sat afterward 
in the state senate. Vallejo had not forgotten the 
Bear Flag filibusters who had subjected him to the 
ignominy of arrest ; and each had his reason for being 
somewhat a drawback on the proceedings. 63 

Of foreign-born delegates there were few. Captain 
Sutter was noticeable, owing to his long residence in 
the country, and his reputation for hospitality; but 
otherwise he carried little weight. Louis Dent, dele 
gate from Santa Barbara, an Englishman, voted with 
De la Guerra. Among the Americans were a num 
ber who were, or afterward became, more or less 
famous ; H. W. Halleck, then secretary of state under 
Governor Riley ; Thomas O. Larkin, 64 first and last 

63 Crosby, to whom I am indebted for many hints regarding character, 
says that when the state seal was under discussion, the Spanish members 
exhibited considerable feeling upon the bear being used as the emblem of 
California. Vallejo objected to it; he thought it should at least be under the 
control of a vaquero, with a lasso round its neck! Events in CaL, MS., 34. 
Caleb Lyon of Lyonsdale enjoyed the reputation of designing the state seal, 
although it was not justly his due. Major R. S. Garnet designed it, but 
being of a retiring disposition, gave his drawing to Lyon, who added some 
stars around the rim, and obtained the prize of $1,000, but forgot to purchase 
with it a printing-press, which was one of the conditions. Ross Browne, in 
Overland Monthly, xv. 346; First Ann I Territ. Pioneers, 56-7; S. F. CaL 
Courier, July 1850; Sac. Union, March 17, 1858. The great seal represents 
the bay of San Francisco, with the goddess Minerva in the foreground, the 
Sierra in the background, mining in the middle distance, the grizzly bear at 
the feet of Minerva, and the word Eureka at the top, under a belt of stars. 
Around the whole, The Great Seal of the State of California, S. F. Ann, 
App., 805. 

64 Thomas Oliver Larkin was born in Mass, in 1803, and migrated to Cali- 


United States consul to California; Edward Gilbert, 
who established the Alia California, was sent to con 
gress, and killed in a duel, McDougal became gov 
ernor, and Gwin United States senator; J Ross 
Browne, reporter of the convention, and a popular 
writer, was afterward employed as a secret and open 
agent of the government, to look into politics and into 
mines, 65 Jacob R Snyder, a Philadelphian, whom 
Commodore Stockton found in the country, and to 
whom he intrusted the organization of an artillery 
corps, and made quartermaster to Fremont s battalion. 
Under Mason s administration he was surveyor for 
the middle department of California, and one of the 
founders of Sacramento. Stephen G. Foster, Elisha 
O. Crosby, K. H. Dimmick, Lansford W. Hastings, 
were all enterprising northern men ; besides others less 
well known. Rodman M. Price was subsequently 
member of congress from, and governor of, the state 
of New Jersey; and Pacificus Ord district attorney 
for the United States in California. 

The convention was not lacking in talent. It was 
not chosen with regard to party proclivities, but was 
understood to be mider the management, imaginary if 
not real, of southern men. It was a curious mixture. 
On one hand a refined, and in his own esteem at least 
an already distinguished, representative of the after 
ward arrogant chivalry who sought to rule California, 

fornia in 1832. He was deeply concerned in all the measures which severed 
Cal. from Mexico, loaning his funds and credit to meet the exigencies of the 
war. He was made consul and navy agent by the U. S. govt. He gave each 
of the officers of the Southampton a lot in Benicia. Larkin, Doc,, vii. 72; Colton, 
Three Years, 28-30. He was at one time supposed to be the richest man in 
America. S. I. Friend, vii. 85. 

65 John Ross Browne was an Irishman, born in 1822 at Dublin, where his 
father edited the Cornet, a political paper, and who immigrated to the U. S. 
in 1833. The lad, whose new home was in Louisville, Ky., exhibited a pas 
sion for travel, which he gratified. He had talent, and became reporter to a 
Cincinnati paper, studied medicine, reported for the U. S. senate, and held 
several situations under govt, at last being given a place as lieut in the 
revenue service, and sent to Cal., where he found the service had been reduced 
and himself discharged. He then became reporter for the convention. Sub 
sequently he was secret treasury agent, and emyloyed to report upon mines. 
His last appointment was as minister to China. His death occurred in Dec. 


was William M Gwin. On the other the loose-jointed, 
honest, but blatant and unkempt McCarver, whom 
we have known in Oregon. Another kind of south 
erner was Benjamin F. Moore, who had migrated 
from Florida through Texas, carried a huge bowie- 
knife, and was usually half drunk. 68 Joel P. Walker 
we have seen coming overland in 1840 and 1841 with 
his family and household gods, first to Oregon and 
then to California, a pioneer of pioneers; Charles T. 
Betts of Virginia, who was a man of ability, and an 
earnest southerner; James M. Jones, a young man, a 
fine linguist, and good lawyer, who was United States 
district judge for the southern district of California 
after the admission of California, and who died in 1851 
of consumption, at San "Jose, 67 an extreme southerner 
in his views, fully believing in and insisting on the 
divine right of slave-holders to the labor of the African 
race; the genial and scholarly 0. M. Wozencraft, 
William E. Shannon, an Irishman by birth, and a 
lawyer, who introduced that section in the bill of rights 
which made California a free state borrowed, it is 
true, but as illustrious and imperishable as it is Ameri 
can. 68 

On the 1st of the month the members present met 
in Colton hall to adjourn to the 3d. Some debate 
was had on the apportionment as it had been made, 
the election as it stood, and the justice of increasing 
the delegation from several districts, which was finally 
admitted, when forty-eight instead of thirty-seven 
members were received. 09 Of these, fourteen were 

66 Foster, A ngeles in 1847, MS. , 17 ; Crosby, Events in Cal. , MS. , 47. In 1 852 
Moore received the whig nomination for congress but was defeated. As a 
criminal lawyer he was somewhat noted. He several times represented 
Tuolumne co. in the legislature. He died Jan. 2, 1866, at Stockton. Pajaro 
Times, Jan. 13, 1866; Havilah Courier, Jan. 12, 1867. 

67 Burnett, Recoil, MS., ii. 255-67; Gwin, Mem., MS., 14. 

^McClellan, Repub. in Amer., 115-16. Shannon came to the U. S. in 
1830 at the age of 7 years, his father settling in Steuben co., N. Y. He studied 
law, but joined the N. Y. reg. for Cal. in 1846. He was elected to the state 
senate in 1850, and died of cholera Nov. 13th of that year. Sac. Transcript, 
Nov. 14, 1850; Shuck s Repres. Men, 853-4; San Jose Pioneer, March, 30, 1878. 

69 The rule under which the additional delegates were admitted was that 


lawyers, twelve farmers, seven merchants. The re 
mainder were engineers, bankers, physicians, and print- 

every one having received over 100 votes in his district should be a member. 

The list of regular delegates stood as follows: 

Names. Nativity. Residence. Age. 

John A. Sutter Switzerland 47 

H. W. Halleck New York . . . .Monterey . .32 

William M. Gwin Tennessee San Francisco .... 44 

William M. Steuart Maryland San Francisc* 49 

Joseph Hoborn Maryland San Francisco ... .39 

Thomas L. Vermeule New Jersey 35 

O. M. Wozencraft . . .Ohio San Joaquin 34 

B. F. Moore Florida San Joaquin 29 

William E. Shannon ...*.. .New York Sacramento 27 

Winfield S. Sherwood New York Sacramento 32 

Elam Brown New York San Jose 52 

Joseph Aram . . .New York San 1 Jose 39 

J. D. Hoppe Maryland San Jose 35 

John McDougal Ohio . . .Sutter 32 

Elisha 0. Crosby New York Vernon 34 

H. K. Dimmick .New York San Jose 34 

Julian Hanks Connecticut.. . . San Jose 39 

M. M. McCarver Kentucky. . . .Sacramento 42 

Francis J. Lippitt Rhode Island San Francisco 37 

Rodman M. Price Massachusetts . Monterey 47 

Thomas O. Larkin New York San Francisco 36 

Louis Dent o . .Missouri Monterey 26 

Henry Hill Virginia Monterey 33 

Charles T. Betts. Virginia. Monterey. 40 

Myron Norton .Vermont San Francisco. . . .27 

James M. Jones Kentucky San Joaquin 25 

Pedro Sainsevain Bordeaux San Jose 26 

Jose M. Covarrubias France Santa Barbara. . ..41 

Antonio M. Pico . . California San Jos6 40 

Jacinto Rodriguez California Monterey 36 

Stephen G. Foster Maine Los Angeles 28 

Henry A. Tefft New York San Luis Obispo . 26 

J. M. H. Hollingsworth. 1 . .Maryland San Joaquin 25 

Abel Stearns c . . .Massachusetts .Los Angeles 51 

Hugh Pveid Scotland San Gabriel 38 

Benjamin S. Lippincott. . . .New York San Joaquin 34 

Joel P. Walker Virginia Sonoma 52 

Jacob R. Snyder Pennslyvania . . Sacramento 34 

Lansford W. Hastings Ohio Sacramento 30 

Pablo de la Guerra California Santa Barbara 30 

M. G. Vallejo .California. e . . .Sonoma 42 

Jose Antonio Carrillo. . - . . California Los Angeles 53 

Manuel Dominguez California. . . , . Los Angeles 46 

Robert Semple Kentucky Benicia 42 

Pacificus Ord Maryland Monterey. ... 33 

Edward Gilbert. .... . .New York San Francisco 27 

A. J. Ellis New York San Francisco 33 

Miguel de Pedrorena Spain San Diego . .41 

S. F. Bulletin, May 25, 1878; Mendoano Co. Hist., 292-7; Browne, Constvb. 

Debates, An. S. F., 136-7; San Joaquin Co. Hist., 22-3; Alameda Co. Hist. 

Atlas, 13; Yuba Co. Hist., 37-8; James Queen and W. Lacy were elected 

additional delegates to represent Sac. Sutter Co. Hist., 26; Ezquer, Mem., 

31-2; S. F. Post, June 26, 1886. 


ers. 70 These professions did not prevent their being 
miners any more than it disqualified them from legis 
lation, and nothing but crime bars the American from 
that privilege. All were in the prime of life, all very 
much in earnest, and patriotic according to their light, 
albeit their light was colored more or less by local 
prejudices. To be a patriot, a man must be prejudiced ; 
but the respect we accord to his patriotism depends 
upon the breadth or quality of his bias. 

As I have remarked, the northern spirit was pre 
pared to array itself, if necessary, against any assump 
tion on the part of the chivalry in the convention, 
whose pretensions to the divine right to rule displayed 
itself, not only upon slave soil, but was carried into 
the national senate chamber, and had already flaunted 
itself rather indiscreetly in California. While the 
choice of a president was under discussion, Snyder 
took occasion to state in a facetious and yet pointed 
manner that Mr Gwin had come down prepared to be 
president, and had also a constitution in his pocket 
which the delegates would be expected to adopt, sec 
tion by section. 71 Both Snyder s remarks and G win s 
denial were received with laughter, but the hint was 
not lost. Snyder proposed Doctor Semple for presi 
dent of the convention, and the pioneer printer of 
Monterey, a giant in height if not in intellect, was 
duly elected. 72 He was a large-hearted and measur 
ably astute man, with tact enough to preside well, 
and as much wisdom in debate as his fellows. 3 

The chosen reporter of the convention, J. Ross 
Browne, had a commission to establish post-offices, 
and established one at San Jose before the conven 
tion, and none anywhere afterward. William G* 

7 Overland Monthly, ix. 14-16; Simonin, Grand Quest., 320-3. 

71 Crosby, Events in Cal., MS., 38-40. This was true; but it was the consti 
tution of Iowa. 

72 Gwin explains that it was the distrust of the native-born members that 
defeated him. They attributed to him the most dangerous Designs upon 
their property, in the formation of a state government. Memoirs, MS., 11. 

73 Royce, California, 62; Colton, Three Years, 32j Sherman, $f em., i. 78j 
Capi-on, 47-8. 



Marcy was selected secretary ; Caleb Lyon, of Lyons- 
dale, first assistant, and J. G. Field, second assistant 
secretaries. William Hartnell was employed to inter 
pret for the Spanish members. Chaplains were at 
hand, Padre Ramirez and S. H. Willey alternating 
with the refugee superior of the Lower California mis 
sions, Ignacio Arrellanes. 74 

Thus equipped the delegates proceeded harmoniously 
with their work. They did not pretend to originate 
a constitution ; they carefully compared those of the 
several states with whose workings they were familiar, 
and borrowed from each what was best and most ap 
plicable, or could be most easily made to conform to 
the requirements of California, all of which, by amend 
ments frequently suggested, became modelled into a 
new and nearly faultless instrument. 

To the surprise of northern men, no objection was 
made by the southerners to that section in the bill of 
rights which declared that neither slavery nor invol 
untary servitude, 75 except in punishment of crime, 
should ever be tolerated in the state. It was not in 
the bill as reported by the committee 76 having it in 

74 Browne, L. Cal., 51; Willey s Thirty Years, 32. 

75 The temper of the majority was understood. As early as 1848 the qiies- 
tion was discussed in Cal. in relation to its future. The editor of the Call- 
fornian, in May of that year, declares that he echoes the sentiment of the 
people of California in saying that slavery is neither needed nor desired here, 

signing himself G. C. H., in the same journal of Nov. 4, 1848, writes: If 
white labor is too high for agriculture, laborers on contract may be brought 
from China, or elsewhere, who if well treated will work faithfully for low 
wages. Buckelew, in the issue of March 15, 1848, said: We have not heard 
one of our acquaintance in this country advocate the measure, and we are 
almost certain that 97-100 of the present population are opposed to it. We 
left the slave states, remarked the editor again, * because we did not like to 
bring up a family in a miserable, can t-help-one s-self condition, and dearly 
as he loved the union he should prefer Cal. independent to seeing her a slave 
state. The N. Y. Express of Sept. 10, 1848, thought the immigration would 
settle the question. It did not change the sentiment, except to add rather 
more friends of slavery to the population, but still with a majority against it. 
On the 8th of Jan., 1849, a mass meeting in Sac. passed resolutions opposing 
slavery. This was the first public expression of the kind. 

76 G win was chairman of the committee on constitution. Norton, Hill, 
Foster, De la Guerra, Rodriguez, Tefft, Covarrubias, Dent, Halleck, Dim- 
mick, Hoppe, Vallejo, Walker, Snyder, Sherwood, Lippiucott, and Moore 
constituted the committee. Browne, Comtit. Debates, 29. 


charge, but when offered by Shannon was unanimously 
adopted. Gwin had set out on the road to the United 
States senate, 77 and could not afford to raise any 
troublesome questions ; and most of the southern men 
among the delegates having office in view were sim 
ilarly situated. Some of them hoped to regain all 
that they lost when they came to the subject of 
boundary. Let northern California be a free state; 
out of the remainder of the territory acquired from 
Mexico half a dozen slave states might be made. 

But the African, a veritable Banquo s ghost, would 
not down, even when as fairly treated as I have 
shown ; and McCarver insisted on the adoption of a 
section preventing free negroes from coming to or 
residing in the state. It was adroitly laid to rest by 
Green, who persuaded McCarver that his proposed 
section properly belonged in the legislative chapter of 
the constitution, where, however, it never appeared. 

The boundary was more difficult to deal with, intro 
ducing the question of slavery in an unexpected phase. 
The report of the committee on boundary included in 
the proposed state all the territory between the line 
established by the treaty of 1848 between Mexico and 
the United States, on the south, and the parallel of 
42 on the north, and west of the 116th meridian of 
longitude. McDougal, chairman of the committee, 
differed from it, and proposed the 105th meridian as 
the eastern boundary, taking in all territory acquired 
from Mexico by the recent treaty, and a portion of 
the former Louisiana territory besides. Semple was 
in favor of the Sierra Nevada as the eastern boundary, 
but proposed leaving it open for congress to decide. 
Gwin took a little less, naming for the eastern line the 
boundary between California and New Mexico, as laid 

77 Gwin says in his Memoirs, MS. , 5, that on the day of Prest Taylor s 
funeral he met Stephen A. Douglas in front of the Willard s Hotel, and in 
formed him that on the morrow he should be en route for California, which 
by the failure of congress to give it a territorial government, would be forced 
to make itself a state, to urge that policy and to become a candidate for 
U. S. senator; and that within a year he would present his credentials. He 
was enabled to keep his word. 


down on Preuss map of Oregon and California from 
the survey of Fremont and others. Halleck suggested 
giving the legislature power to accede to any proposi 
tion of congress which did not throw the eastern line 
west of the Sierra; to which Gwin agreed. "If we 
include territory enough for several states," said the 
latter," it is competent for the people and the state of 
California to divide it hereafter." He thought the 
fact that a great portion of the territory was unex 
plored, and that the Mormons had already applied for 
a territorial government, should not prevent them from 
including the whole area named. Then arose McCar- 
ver, and declared it the duty of the house to fix a 
permanent boundary, both that they might know 
definitely what they were to have, and to prevent the 
agitation of the slavery question in the event of a fu 
ture division of "territory enough for several states." 
Shannon proposed nearly the line which was finally 
adopted for California, which he said included " every 
prominent and valuable point in the territory; every 
point which is of any real value to the state ;" and in 
sisted upon fixing the boundary in the constitution. 
" I believe, if we do not, it will occasion in the congress 
of the United States a tremendous struggle/ said he ; 
and gave good reasons for so believing. " The slave- 
holding states of the south will undoubtedly strive 
their utmost to exclude as much of that territory as 
they can, and contract the limits of the new free state 
within the smallest possible bounds. They will nat 
urally desire to leave open as large a tract of country 
as they can for the introduction of slavery hereafter. 
The northern states will oppose it [the constitution], 
because that question is left open" and so the admis 
sion of California would be long delayed, whereas the 
thing they all most desired was that there should be 
no delay. Hastings also took this view. " The south 
will readily see that the object [of Gwin s boundary] 
is to force the settlement of the question [slavery ]. 
The south will never agree to it. It raises the ques- 


tion in all its bitterness and in its worse form, before 


These remarks aroused Betts, who plunged into the 
controversy : "I understand now, from one of the gen 
tlemen that constitute the new firm of Gwin and Hal- 
leek the gentleman from Monterey who avows at 
last the reason for extending this eastern boundary be 
yond the natural limits of California, that it will settle 
in the United States the question of slavery over a 
district beyond our reasonable and proper limits, which 
we do not want, but which we take in for the purpose 
of arresting further dispute on the subject of slavery 
in that territory. It has been well asked if the gen 
tleman can suppose that southern men can be asleep 
when such a proposition is sounded in their ears. Sir, 
the avowal of this doctrine on the floor of this house 
necessarily and of itself excites feelings that I had 
hoped might be permitted to slumber in my breast 
while I was a resident of California. But it is not to 
be. This harrowing and distracting question of the 
rights of the south and the aggressions of the north 
this agitating question of slavery is to be intro 
duced here. . . . Why not indirectly settle it by extend 
ing your limits to the Mississippi? Why not include 
the island of Cuba, a future acquisition of territory 
that we may one day or other obtain, and forever settle 
this question by our action here ? " And then he gave 
his reasons for fixing a boundary, and not a too exten 
sive one, urging the greater political power of small 

McDougal seems to have been enlightened by the 
discussion, and to have made up his mind to present 
his views; this being his first attempt to deliver any 
kind of argument in a deliberative body. He was now 
opposed to taking in the country east of the Sierra, 
which he had first advocated. "The people may 
change their notions about slavery after they get hold 
of the territory; they may assemble in convention and 
adopt slavery. It leaves this hole open. You at 


once acquire the sole control over this confederacy for 
time immemorial. We do not wish to give you this 
power, because other subjects, as important as that of 
slavery, may arise in this government, and you would 
have power alone to control them. And another very 
good reason, which they might urge with a great deal 
of plausibility: Suppose this state should have this 
immense population, this immense representation 
suppose, like South Carolina, she should undertake to 
act independently, and recede from the confederacy 
she could do it, having the physical and all other 
powers to do it. If, therefore, we adopt this line, I 
am very sure it will be sent back to us. We will have 
to call another convention and adopt other lines to suit 
the views of congress. In the mean time we have no 
law. We are in the same chaotic condition that we 
are now in. And that is the very thing, Mr Chair 
man, if the secret was known, which I apprehend they 
want to do. They want a constitution presented to 
congress so objectionable that it will be thrown back 
for another convention. Gentlemen have risen on 
this floor and stated that they had received letters 
from the south, and that they knew of many others 
who want to bring their slaves here and work them 
for a short period in the mines, and then emancipate 
them. If this constitution is thrown back upon us 
for reconsideration, it leaves them the opportunity of 
bringing their slaves here. It is what they desire to 
do, to create some strongly objectionable feature in 
the constitution in order that they may bring their 
slaves here and work them three months. They will 
even then get more than they can get for them in the 
states. I look upon that as the result if we send our 
constitution to congress with a boundary so objection 
able as this. We will have herds of slaves thrown 
upon us people totally incapable of self-government; 
and they are so far from the mother country that we 
can never get rid of them; and we will have an evil 


imposed upon us that will be a curse to California as 
long as she exists." 

What McDougal s speech lacked in grammar and 
rhetoric it supplied in facts, and was therefore of 
value. After some further remarks on both sides, 
Semple related a conversation he had held with 
Thomas Butler King, who had said: " For God s 
sake, leave us no territory to legislate upon in con 
gress;" whereupon Betts repudiated the idea of King 
&i an exponent of the wishes of congress. Norton 
spoke in favor of Gwin s boundary ; Sutter of that re 
ported by the committee, except that he suggested 
the southern line to be the confluence of the Gila 
River with the Colorado, in order to facilitate the 
trade of the people of San Diego with Sonora and 
New Mexico. 

The debates waxed warm, and Shannon took occa 
sion to say that King did not utter the sentiments of 
the entire congress. " The secret of it is this," said he, 
" that the cabinet of the United States have found 
themselves in difficulty about the Wilmot proviso, and 
Mr Thomas Butler King it may be others is sent 
here, in the first place, for the purpose of influencing 
the people of California to form a state government, 
and in the next place to include the entire territory. 
Sir, it is a political quarrel at home into which they 
wish to drag the new state of California. For my 
part I wish to keep as far away from such rocks and 
breakers as possible. Let the president and his 
cabinet shoulder their own difficulties. I have no 
desire to see California dragged into any political 
quarrel. Are these the high authorities to which we 
should so reverentially bow? I think not. I believe 
they speak but their own sentiments, or his own senti 
ments, or the sentiments of the cabinet. Besides, sir, 
I always wish to watch a political agent; I would 
always be careful of men of that description." 

When Carrillo had spoken, through an interpreter, 
in favor of comprehending in the state of California 


all the country assigned by the Spanish government 
to the province of Upper California, in 1768, and rec 
ognized as such by Mexico, upon the ground that they 
had no right to leave any part of the people without 
government, Betts raised a new point, which was that 
the convention had been called by proclamation of 
General Riley to represent the ten districts there 
named, and all lying west of the Sierra. How, then, 
could they represent any more? Some of them had 
received a hundred votes; he but ninety-six; how 
could they assume to legislate for 30,000 Mormons at 
Salt Lake? 

The subject occupied several days in debate, and 
was laid aside to be brought up two weeks later, when 
it came near wrecking the constitution altogether; 
but after a scene of wild confusion, and the rejection 
of several amendments, a compromise offered by Jones 
was adopted fixing the eastern boundary on the 120th 
meridian from the Oregon line to the 39th parallel, 
running thence to the Colorado River in a straight 
line south-easterly, to the intersection of the 35th par 
allel; and thence down the middle of the channel to 
the boundary established between the United States 
and Mexico by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A 
proviso was attached that should congress refuse to 
admit the state with that boundary, then it should 
include all the territory as far east as the boundary 
line of New Mexico, as drawn by Preuss from the 
surveys of Fremont and others. In this form it was 
passed by a vote of thirty-two to seven. 

No other subject engendered much controversy, and 
there was a good deal of " slavish copying " of the con 
stitutions of New York and Iowa, which indeed was 
the highest wisdom. Every white male citizen of the 
United States, and every white male citizen of Mex 
ico who had chosen to become a citizen of the United 
States under the treaty of peace of 1848, of the age 
of twenty-four years, and who had resided six months 


in the state preceding the election, and thirty days in 
the district in which he claimed his vote, was eligible. 
A proviso permitted the legislature by a two-thirds 
vote to admit to suffrage Indians or the descendants 
of Indians, in special cases as that body might deem 
proper, a concession to the native Californians. 78 

The questions of corporations and state debt, and of 
taxation, received much attention from the convention, 
which restricted the legislature in its power to create 
corporations by special act, or to charter banks, leav 
ing it to form general laws under which associations 
might be formed for the deposit of gold and silver 
only, but without the power to issue paper of any 
kind. The legislature was also restricted from creat 
ing a state debt exceeding the amount of $300,000, 
unless in the case of war; but it might pass a law 
authorizing a greater expenditure for some special 
object, by providing ways and means exclusive of a 
loan for the payment of interest and principal. Lot 
teries were also prohibited as dangerous to the welfare 
of the people. 

It was impossible to avoid saying in the constitu 
tion that taxation should be equal ; but the delegates 
from that portion of the state covered by Spanish 
grants refused to listen to any proposition subjecting 
their real estate to taxation, while the bulk of the 
population, who had no real estate nor anything that 
could be taxed, enjoyed the benefits of a government 
for which they, the Mexican population, paid. To 
obviate this difficulty the assessors and boards of 
supervisors were to be elected by the voters in the 
county or town in which the property was situated, 
and consequently influenced by them. This provis 
ion was a defect of which the constitution-makers 
were conscious, but for which at that time there 
seemed no remedy. Some guaranty against oppress 
ive taxation was required, and none better offered, 

78 Suiter, Autobiog., 198-9; Broume, Consttt. Debates, 179-80; Owin, Memoir, 
MS., 16. 


although it was plain that as the provision stood, it 
could be made to protect the great and oppress the 
small land-holders. 

The legislature was forbidden to grant divorces, and 
was required to pass a homestead law. All property, 
real and personal, of married women, owned at the 
date of marriage or afterward acquired by gift, devise, 
or inheritance, was made separate property, and the 
legislature was enjoined to pass laws for its registra 
tion; and other laws clearly defining the rights of 
wives in relation to property and other matters. 

With regard to education, the legislature was re 
quired to provide for a system of common schools, by 
which a school should be kept up in each district 
three months in the year; and any district neglecting 
to sustain such a school should be deprived of its pro 
portion of the public fund during such neglect. The 
support of common schools was expected to be derived 
from the sale of lands with which the state was in the 
future to be supplied by congress. The position of 
California was quite unlike that of other members of 
the United States when demanding admission, having 

Eassed through no territorial period, and having no 
ind laws. Considerable time would elapse before it 
could be known how land matters stood, how much 
belonged to the former inhabitants, the nature of 
their titles, and other questions likely to arise. But 
the framers of the constitution could only proceed 
upon the ground that congress would not be less 
bountiful to California in the matter of school land 
than it had been to Oregon and Minnesota. 79 Has- 

79 1 have been at some trouble to find who first suggested our present lib 
eral school land law. It seems that in 1846 James H. Piper, acting commis 
sioner of the gen. land office, made a report to Robt J. Walker, sec. of the 
treasury, on the expediency of making further provision for the support of 
common schools in land, saying that it was attracting much attention, and 
was certainly worthy of the most favorable consideration. Those states are 
sparsely settled by an active, industrious, and enterprising people; who, how 
ever, may not have sufficient means, independent of their support, to endow 
or maintain public schools. In aid to this important matter, congress, at the 
commencement of our land system, and when the reins of government were 
held by the sages of the revolution, set apart one section out of every town 
ship of 36 sq. miles. At that early day, this provision doubtless appeared 


tings made an effort to have the obligatory school term 
extended to six months; but Gwin and Dimmick op 
posed the amendment, and it was lost. The legisla 
ture was required to take measures for the protection, 
improvement, and disposition of such lands as congress 
should grant for the use of a university, and to secure 
the funds arising therefrom ; and should " encourage 
by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, 
scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement." 

As to the government of the state, its executive de 
partment consisted of a governor, lieutenant-governor, 
secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, attorney- 
general, and surveyor-general; the governor and lieu 
tenant-governor to be elected by the people ; the 
secretary to be appointed by the governor, with the 
other officers chosen by consent of the senate, and 
the joint vote of the two houses of the legislature. 
The judiciary department was elective, 80 and consisted 
of a supreme court, district courts, county courts, and 
justices of the peace. 

Among the miscellaneous provisions was one dis 
franchising any one who should fight a duel with deadly 
weapons, or assist in any manner at a duel. 81 The 

munificent, but experience has proved it to be inadequate. He recommended 
further grants. H. Ex. Doc., 9, vol. ii., 29th cong., 2d sess. Walker sent the 
report to John W. Davis, speaker of the house. In the report of sec. Walker 
for Dec. 1847, he refers to the subject again; and recommends the grant of a 
school section in the centre of every quarter of a township, which would 
bring the school-house within a point not exceeding a mile and a half from 
the most remote inhabitant of such qr township. This applied first to Ore 
gon, which was then under consideration as to land donations. H. Ex. Doc., 
6, p. 10 of Rept of Sec Treas., 29th cong., 1st sess. Addressed to Hon. Robt 
C. Winthop, speaker of the house. In 1848, Walker again recommends the 
grant of 4 sections in every township for school purposes, in each of the new 
states, mentioning however, Or., Cal., and New Mexico. H. Ex Doc., 7, 
vol. ii., 30th cong., 2d sess. The committee to which it was referred finally 
decided upon two sections to every township. Gwin quoted from Walker s 
report. Browne, Constit. Debates, 207 

80 Du Hailly, in Revue des Devx Mondes, Feb 1 1859, 608-9, remarks 
upon the judiciary being subject to the caprices and instabilities of elections 
at short inter\ 7 als. There were seven in the convention opposed to it- among 
whom was Crosby. Events in Cal., MS., 44. 

81 During the discussions in the early part of the session, Jones and Tefft 
had a wordy encounter which nearly resulted in a bloody one, but the w r ould- 
be duellists were brought to a mutual apology by the interposition of Gwin, 
whose knowledge of parliamentary usages was, though often paraded, really 
of much use to the convention, as this incident illustrates 


question of a capital was avoided by requiring the 
legislature to meet at San Jose until removed by law, 
the consent of two thirds of all the members of both 
branches of the legislature being necessary to its 

When the committee on finance was instructed to 
report on the compensation of members of the con 
vention, Gwin summed up the condition of the revenue 
of the country briefly to the effect that the new state 
was in want of everything public buildings, court 
houses, jails, roads, bridges, and all internal improve 
ments prices were excessively high, there was not a 
dollar of public money, nor could any be raised but by 
levying taxes which the population was in no condition 
to bear. Ranches were abandoned and the laborers 
gone to the mines. There were consequently no 
crops, and property that yielded $100,000 income 
three years before was then yielding nothing. In the 
mines the people could not be taxed, having no prop 
erty but the gold they dug out of the earth, and needing 
that to make improvements. The proposition was made 
to lay before congress in a memorial, to accompany 
the constitution, the condition of the people, and call 
ing for support to a state government, either by donat 
ing a part of the public domain, or appropriating from 
the moneys collected in California from the customs 
and sale of the public lands an amount sufficient for 
the object. This Gwin thought would not be objected 
to by congress, which in the case of fourteen other 
states had paid the expenses of a territorial govern 
ment for many years. The memorial which was 
finally presented to congress with the constitution did 
not make the demand proposed, and only very slightly 
alluded to the fund created by customs collected in 
California while in its transition state. 82 The schedule 

82 1 have already several times alluded to this fund, but without giving its 
entire history, which is this: In Oct. 1849, a Military Contribution tariff was 
promulgated by the president, and established in the ports of Cal. The cus 
tom-houses, which until then had remained in the hands of citizens, who 
accounted to the military governor, or commodore of the Pacific squadron, 
were now filled with army or navy officers, down to the period when, peace 


attached to the main instrument continued the exist 
ing laws in force until altered or repealed by the legis- 

being proclaimed, collectors were appointed by Mason, in his position of gov. 
of Cal. , customs being collected 0:1 all foreign goods as directed in the tariff 
of 184G the commodore of the Pacific squadron continuing the direction of 
all matters relating to port regulations. A double necessity, says Riley, 
impelled the gov. to this course; the country was in pressing need of these 
foreign goods, and congress had established no port of entry on this coast; the 
want of a more complete organization of the existing civil govt was daily in 
creasing; and as congress had made no provision for supporting a territorial 
govt in this country, it was absolutely necessary to create a fund for that 
purpose from duties collected on these foreign goods. It is true, there was no 
law of congress authorizing the collection of those duties, but at the same time 
the laws forbade the landing of the goods until the duties were paid. Congress 
had declined to legislate on the subject, and both the president and secretary 
of the treasury acknowledged the want of power of the treasury department 
to collect revenue in Cal. The gov. of Cal., therefore, assumed the respon 
sibility of collecting this revenue for the support of the govt of this coun 
try. Letter of Riley to Col J. Hooker, com g dept, asst adj. -gen. Pacific 
division, in H. Ex. Doc., 31, i. no. 17, p. 814-29. The writer goes on to say 
that in the interim between the signing of the treaty of peace and the exten 
sion of the revenue laws over this country, it is a fair presumption that the 
temporary regulations established by the executive authority continued in 
force, so far as they conflicted with no treaties, or laws of the U. S. , or con 
stitutional provisions; at any rate, that Mason had communicated his pro 
ceedings to Washington, and met with no rebuke, from which he inferred 
they were approved; in fact, that congress had entirely ignored the whole 
case. The reason of this is obvious: as congress had failed to organize a 
territorial govt here, all were aware the existing govt must continue in force, 
and that it must have some means of support. Such was the extraordinary 
origin and history of the civil fund, which began as a military contribution, 
and after peace was continued solely by the will of a military officer, without 
the instructions or even the notice of congress, but which congress permitted 
to be applied as the military governors saw fit until the state govt was estab 
lished, and then diverted into the U. S. treasury. In Aug. 1849, an attempt 
was made to remove this money from the control of Riley, and to place it at 
the disposition of the military commander who had had no responsibility in 
its collection, and who of right can exercise no authority over it. It was the 
correspondence on this subject which brought out the above statements. 
Among other facts elicited was this, that when money was wanted by the 
military department (formerly), on application a loan or temporary transfer 
was made from the civil fund. Halleck also, in May 1849, complained that 
it was difficult to keep the civil funds separate from the military appropria 
tions. The reason was, that the army and navy officers found their pay so 
inadequate to their expenses as to force them to make calls upon the civil 
fund. That grim old fellow, Riley, refused to give up the money already 
collected under his administration, and in his charge, to Gen. Smith, who had 
certainly no right to demand it. On the 3d of Aug. the gov. appointed Maj. 
Robert Allen treasurer of Cal , who in direct violation of his instructions trans 
ferred $35,124.79 to the quartermaster s department, and $500 to Maj. Fitz 
gerald, asst qr master. In Aug. the amounts due the civil fund from the 
military dept was $10,000, transferred to Maj. Hardie for raising troops in 
Or ; $70,000 to Naval Purser Forest, for the expenses of bringing immigrants 
from Lower Cal.; $3,500 to Maj. Rich, and $200 to Lieut Warren; $10,804.50 
transferred by Lieut Davidson to the qr master and commissary depts, and 
$896.70 delivered to Capt. Ingall by the collector at San Pedro. Previous to 
this, in 1848, Gen. Kearny appointed two sub-Indian agents, and paid them 
from the civil fund, and there had been loaned $3,210 to officers of the navy. 


lature, and transferred all causes which might be 
pending to the courts created by the constitution on 
the admission of the state. It provided for its ratifi 
cation by the people, at an election to be held Novem 
ber 13th, and for the election at the same time of a 
governor, lieutenant-governor, a legislature, and two 
members of congress. Should the constitution be 
adopted, the legislature should assemble at the seat of 
government on the 15th of December, and proceed to 
install the officers elect, to choose two senators to the 
congress of the United States, and to negotiate for 
money to pay the expenses of the state government. 
By close application to business, day and night, 83 
the constitution was brought to completion, and signed 
on the 13th of October, thirty-one guns being fired 
from the fort in honor of the occasion ; the last one for 
the constitution of the new state of California. 84 It 
was an instrument of which its makers might justly 
be proud ; its faults being rather those of circumstance 

None of this money had been accounted for in Aug. 1849, nor do I find any 
evidetice that it ever was returned to the civil fund. In Sept. Riley author 
ized the loan of $30,000 for the use of the pay dept of the army, from the fund 
collected at Benicia. In Oct. $15,000 was loaned Maj. McKinstry, for the 
use of the qr master s dept; and for Lieut Derby s use $3,000. One other 
source of revenue, besides customs, was the money received from the rent of 
the missions unauthorized, like the first all of which is to be found in the 
document quoted above. See also Alia Cal., Dec. 15, 1849, and Frost s Hist. 
Cat., 485-6. King, on his arrival, had to have a finger in the pie. He in 
structed the collectors not to exact duties, but to receive deposits at the door 
of the treasury, subject to the action of congress. On the 20th of June there 
was half a million in the hands of the quartermaster, a part of which belonged 
to the revenue, congress having extended the revenue laws to Cal. Riley had 
always been of the opinion that the civil fund belonged in justice to the peo 
ple of Cal., from whom it had been collected without a shadow of law, and 
made several recommendations on the subject, some of which were that it 
should be applied to school purposes and to public improvements. Neither 
object ever received a dollar of it; but the money was ordered into the U. S. 
treasury, after the expenses of the convention were paid out of it, which the 
general took care should be liberal. 

83 Among the relics of the convention preserved is a candlestick which 
served to help illuminate its evening sessions. 

8i Crosby mentions that Sutter had a great love for the noise of artillery, 
and was much excited by the discharge of the cannon, exclaiming over and 
over, This is the proudest day I ever saw ! Cal. Events, MS., 37. The gen 
tle Swiss was mellow. See, further, Sac. Union, Sept. 1859; *Cal. Past and 
Present, 181; 8. F. Alta, June 17, 1878; Roach, Statement, MS., 4; 8. F. Post, 
June 29, 1878; Taylors Eldorado, i. 146-56; Frignet, 125 et seq.; Jenkins 
U. S. Ex. Ex., 440; Sac. Reporter, Jan. 7, 1869; Willey s Per. Mem., MS., 


than of judgment. The heterogeneous personnel of 
the convention proved a safeguard rather than a draw 
back; New York being forced to consult Mississippi, 
Maryland to confer with Vermont, Rhode Island with 
Kentucky, and all with California. Strangers to each 
other when they met, in contending for the faith that 
was in them they had become brothers, and felt like 
congratulating each other on their mutual achiev- 
raent. 85 

Governor Riley had made no secret of his intention 
to pay the expenses of the convention from the civil 
fund, and on being visited by the delegates, en masse, 
received them with his usual grim humor, and allowed 
their not too modest demand of sixteen dollars per day, 
and sixteen dollars for every twenty miles of travel in 
coming and returning. The reporter of the proceed 
ings received $10,000, he contracting to furnish one 
thousand printed and bound copies in English, and one 
quarter as many in Spanish, for that money. The 
nearest newspaper office being in San Francisco, and 
there lacking but one month to the time of election, a 
courier was despatched post-haste to the Alia office to 
procure the printing of copies 86 for immediate circula 
tion for election purposes, together with a proclamation 
by Governor Riley submitting the constitution and 
an address to the people, prepared by Steuart, and 
signed by the delegates. Then they all drew a breath 
of relief, and voted to have a ball, in which men of 
half a dozen nationalities, and almost as many shades 
of complexion, trod the giddy mazes of the dance with 

86 Lieut Hamilton made the handsomely engrossed copy of the constitu 
tion, which was forwarded to congress, for $500. For the text of the funda 
mental laws of Cal, see Cal. Statutes, 1850, 24-6; U. S. Sen. Doc. 28, viii. ; 31st 
cong., 1st sess.; U. S. H. Misc. Doc., 44, i. 18-34; 31st cong., Istsess.; (7. S. 
II. Ex. Doc. 39, vii. 17; 31st cong., 1st sess.; Browne, Consttt. Debates App., iii.- 
xiii. ; HartneWs Convention, Original, MS., pts. 1-16; Am. Quart. Reg., iii. 575- 
88; S. I. Friend, vii. 90; Simonin, Grand Quest., 324-36; Capron, 48-50; Poly 
nesian, vi. 110. The autographs of the signers are to be found in the museum 
of the Pioneer Society, S. F. In 1875 only 15 out of the 48 were living, and 
the orator of the anniversary celebration for that year (Ross Browne) died a 
few weeks later. 

80 Footers Angeles in 1847, MS., 17-18; H. Ex. Doc. 31, i. no. 17, p. 
845-6; Gregory, Guide, 11-46; Val, Doc., 35, 153-7. 


California senoras in striking costumes, whose dark 
splendors were relieved here and there by a woman of 
a blonde type and less picturesque attire. 

In a few days the constitution was carried to every 
mining camp and rancho in the land. 87 Candidates 
took the field for office under it, should it be sanctioned 
by the people, and made their speeches as in any 
ordinary campaign. The democracy, whose delight it 
always was to organize/ held their first party gather 
ing in Portsmouth square, San Francisco, October 
25th, Alcalde Geary acting as chairman. 88 The or 
ganization, however, being suspected to be a piece of 
political legerdemain to put in nomination for congress 
a member of a clique, some of the solid, old-fashioned 
democrats in attendance offered a resolution to invite 
the towns in the interior to participate in the nomina 
tions, which resolution being adopted, a convention 
was the result, and Edward Gilbert was nominated 
for that position. Other democrats gave as a reason 
for introducing party politics at this period in the his 
tory of the state, that T. Butler King, having resigned 
his place in the lower house of congress, was aiming 
at the senate, expecting to be elected by a no-party 
majority, and they wished to defeat these aspirations.* 9 

Large assemblages were held in Sacramento of the 
no-party politicians, the object of which was to select 
and present candidates for election to both houses of 
the legislature, and also to obtain the United States 
senator ship for some man of that district. 90 The can- 

87 Rather at a loss to some of the most active of the prefects and sub- 
prefects whose duty it was to disseminate the political news. Crosby says he 
spent about $1,400 for which he was never reimbursed. Events in Cat., MS., 
56; Fernandez, Doc., 4; Ang. Arch., iii. 277-8; Taylor, Eldorado, i. 159-bU 

88 O. P. Sutton, McMillan, ,Thos J. Agnew, John McVickar, W. H. Jones, 
E. V. Joyce, and Annis Merrill acted as vice-presidents; J. Ross Browne, 
Joseph T. Downey, Daniel Cronin, and John H. McGlynn as secretaries. 
Oakland Transcript, March 5, 1873; Solano Valkjo Democrat, Feb. 11, 1871; 
Upham, Notes, 2(i, 25. 

89 Geary, Van Voorhies, and Sutton were opposed to King. Siitton, State 
ment, MS., 9. St Chupostom, in Placer Times, Nov. 17, 1849, condemns 
the formation of parties, and says King ought to have sense enough nou to 
set the ball rolling. Polynesian, vi. 98. 

w A mass meeting for these purposes in Sac. was held on the 29th of Oct. 


didates in the field for the executive office were Peter 
H. Burnett, William M. Steuart, John W. Geary, 
John A. Sutter, and Winfield S. Sherwood. Burnett 
was superior judge at the time, having been appointed 
by Governor Riley to that position on the 13th of 
August. He was in Monterey during the session of 
the constitutional convention, and being satisfied that 
it would go before the people and be adopted, an 
nounced himself a candidate in September, and re 
turned to San Jose before the close of the proceedings 
to commence a canvass. Sherwood 91 proposed that 
Burnett and himself should submit their claims to a 
committee of mutual friends, who should decide which 
should withdraw; but this Burnett declined. The 
election showed that he knew his strength, the vote 
standing: Burnett, 6,716; Sherwood, 3,188; Sutter, 
2,201; Geary, 1,475; Steuart, 619. The office of 
lieutenant-governor was sought by John McDougal 
and A. M. Winn, the former being elected. 

The 13th of November, the day appointed for the 
election, was one of storm, and the vote in consequence 
was light. The population of California at this period 
was estimated at 107,000; the number of Americans 
in the country 76,000; of foreigners 18,000; of natives 
13,000. The whole vote polled was 12,064 for and 
811 against the constitution ; or the vote of about one 
sixth of the American inhabitants. It was a satis- 

in front of the City hotel; S. C. Hastings, prest; Albert Priest, vice-prest; 
W. R. Grimshaw, sec.; W. M. Steuart, John McDougal, E. Gilbert, J. R. 
Snyder, W. S. Sherwood, P. A. Morse, G. B. Tingley, Edward J. C. Kewen. 
The meeting adjourned to the 30th, when it put in nomination for state sena 
tors John Bidwell, E. O. Crosby, Henry E. Robinson, and Thos J. Green; 
and for the assembly Thos J. White, John F. Williams, R. Gale, E. W. Mc- 
Kinstry, P. B. Cornwall, George B. Tingley, John Bigler, J. P. Long, and 
John T. Hughes. The meeting divided and another nominating committee 
reported another ticket, which was adopted. For state senators, Bidwell, 
Robinson, Crosby, and Harding Bigelow. For assemblymen, Cardwell, 
Cornwall, Fowler, Ford, Walthal, W. B. Dickinson, James Green, T. M. 
Ames, and A. K. Berry. Placer Times, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1, 1849. 

91 Sherwood was a native of Washington co., N. Y. He had served in the 
N. Y. legislature, and although awkward in appearance was possessed of 
good acquirements and ready wit. He was still a young man. In 1852 he 
was a democratic presidential elector. S. F. Altn, July 24, 1852; Havilah, 
Courier, Jan. 12, 1867; Tinkham, Hist. Stockton, 124. 
HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 20 


factory majority of those who took enough interest in 
the future of the country to go to the polls. Edward 
Gilbert and George W. Wright were elected repre 
sentatives in congress. State senators and represent 
atives were also elected. 

The schedule to the constitution provided that if 
the instrument should be ratified, the legislature 
should meet on the 15th of December, elect a presi 
dent pro tempore, proceed to complete the organization 
of that body, and to install all the officers of state as 
soon as practicable. Three days previous to the 
meeting of the legislature, Governor Riley had issued 
a proclamation declaring the constitution submitted 
to the people in November to be "ordained and estab 
lished as the constitution of the state of California." 
On the 20th Burnett was installed governor, General 
Riley having by proclamation laid down that office on 
the same day, 92 together with that of his secretary of 
state, Halleck. The civil appointments made under 
him expired gradually, as the state government came 
into action in all its branches. 93 

The services of General Riley to California were of 
the highest value, combining, as he did, in his admin 
istration the firmness of a military dictatorship, with 
a statesmanlike tact in leading the people to the 
results aimed at by them, and in a manner to correct 
any leaning toward independence, but uniting them 
firmly with the general government by showing them 
their dependence upon it. He continued to reside at 
Monterey until July 1850, when he returned to the 

**Supp. Pacific News, Dec. 27, 1849; Wilmington Journal, May 27, 1865. 
Petef iialstead, the erratic and talented son of a distinguished father, was 
a candidate for congressman on the whig side of politics. He was from New 
Jersey, and died in New York subsequently, being assassinated in a house of 
ill-fame. Gwin, Mem., MS., 129. 

93 The severa 1 proclamations are given entire in Burnett, Recoil., 359-60; 
Pico, Doc., i. 228; San Luis Ob., Arch., sec. 19; Hall, Hist. San Jose, 218; 
Hittell, S. F., 145-6. A thanksgiving proclamation was issued by Gov. Riley, 
setting apart the 29th day of Nov. to be kept in making a general and public 
acknowledgment of gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the universe for his 
kind and fostering care during the year that was past. //. Ex. Doc. 31, i. 
no. 17, p. 867; Pico, Doc., i. 198; Aug. Arch., iii. 281; San Jose Pioneer, June 
23, IS77. 


states, bearing with him tangible proofs of the esteem 
in which he was held by the citizens of that town, in 
the form of a massive gold medal, and a heavy chain 
composed of nuggets of gold in their native shapes. 9 * 
Thus ended with a banquet and a presentation one of 
the most important periods through which the Cali 
fornia country was to pass. 

94 These gifts were presented on the occasion of a farewell banquet given 
to General Riley at the Pacific house at Monterey, where 200 covers were 
laid, and the ceremonies were in an imposing style. Gen. T. H. Bowen pre 
sided. The city of Monterey voted him a medal of gold weighing one pound, 
which was presented to him by Maj. P. A. Roach. It cost $600. On one 
side it bore the arms of the city; on the other, this legend: Ihe man who 
came to do his duty, and who accomplished his purpose. Id., April 20, 1878. 
Canta Cruz Sentinel, July 23, 1870; Quigley, frisk Race, 343. Some citizens of 
S. F. had previously presented him with a gold snuff-box. Pacific JStio*, <an. 
1, 1850. 




THE first legislature of the state of California con- 


sisted of sixteen senators and thirty-six assemblymen. 
The rainy season which had set in on the 28th of Oc 
tober, 1849, was at its height by the middle of Decem 
ber, and did not close until the 22d of March, during 
which period thirty-six inches of water fell upon the 
thirsty earth. 1 The roads were rendered nearly im 
passable, and the means of travel, otherwise than on 
horseback, being limited, it was with difficulty that 
the members made their way to San Jose from their 
different districts, no quorum being present on the 
first and second days. 

The people of San Jose had sent as commissioners 
Charles White and James F. Reed to Monterey, dur 
ing the session of the constitutional convention, to 
endeavor to secure the location of the capital at their 
town. They were compelled to pledge themselves to 
provide a suitable building for the meetings of the first 
legislature, upon the chance that the capital might be 
fixed there. The legislative building furnished was 

1 Dr Logan, at Sac., kept a rain-gauge, from which the fall for the season 
was taken. 



an unfinished box, sixty feet long and forty feet wide, 
two stories in height, having a piazza in front. The 
upper story, devoted to the use of the assembly, was 
simply one large room, approached by a flight of stairs 
from the senate-chamber, a hall forty by twenty feet 
on the ground-floor; the remainder of the space being 
occupied by the rooms of the secretary of state, and 
various committees. 2 For the first few weeks, owing 
to the incompleteness of their hall, the senators held 
their meetings in the house of Isaac Branham, on the 
south-west corner of the plaza. 

The crudity of the arrangements occasioned much 
dissatisfaction, and on the 19th a bill to immediately 
remove the capital to Monterey passed its first read 
ing, but was laid over, and the business of the session 
allowed to proceed. 3 The senate was organized on the 

2 This house was destroyed by fire April 29, 1853. S. F. Argonaut, Dec. 1, 

3 There being no county organizations, the members of the legislature were 
elected by districts. San Diego district sent to the senate E. Kirby Chamber 
lain; San Joaquin, D. F. Douglas, B. S. Lippincott, T. L. Vermeule, Nelson 
Taylor, and W. D. Fair; San Jose, W. R. Bassham; Sonoma, M. G. Vallejo; 
Monterey, Selim E. Wood worth; Santa Barbara, Pablo de la Guerra; Los 
Angeles, A. W. Hope; Sac., E. O. Crosby, John Bid well, H. E. Robinson, and 
Thomas Jefferson Green; S. F., N. Bennett, G. B. Post, D. C. Broderick. 
Post resigned, and E. Hydenfeldt was elected to fill his place. Broderick 
was not elected until Jan. 1850. Six of the senators were from New York 
state; namely, John Bidwell, born 1819, immigrated to Pa, Ohio, Mo., and 
thence in 1841 to California; E. O. Crosby, aged 34, came to Cal. in 1848; D. 
C. Broderick, born in D. C., but brought up in New York, came to Cal. in 
1849; B. S. Lippincott, aged 34, born in New York, came out with N. Y. 
Vol. from New Jersey; Thomas L. Vermeule, born in New York in 1814, 
came to Cal. in Nov. 1849; he resigned his seat; S. E. Woodworth, born in 
New York in 1815, began life as a sailor in 1832, entered the navy in 1838, 
came to Cal. overland through Or. in 1846, resigned his commission in Oct. 
1849, and was elected senator for two years in Nov. He was a son of the 
author of the Old Oaken Bucket. Connecticut furnished 2 senators: E. K. 
Chamberlain, born 1805, removed to New York in 1815, to Pa in 1829, to 
Cincinnati subsequently, where he studied medicine, served during the Mexi 
can war as army surgeon, and accompanied the Boundary Line Commission 
to Cal. in 1849; C. Robinson, born in Conn., removed at an early age to La, 
studied law, but engaged in mercantile pursuits, and came to Cal. on the first 
mail steamer in Feb. 1849. Cal. furnished 2 senators: Pablo de la Guerra, 
born at Santa Barbara in 1829. He entered the public service at the age of 
19, being appointed administrator-gen., which position he held until 1846. 
M. G. Vallejo was born at Monterey in 1807. In 1824 he commenced his 
military career, as a cadet, and served as lieut, lieut-col, and commander of 
northern Cal. He founded the town of Sonoma. E. Heydenfeldt was born 
in S. C. in 1821, removed to Alabama in 1841, to La in 1844, and to Cal. in 
1849. D. F. Douglas was born in Tenn. in 1821, removed to Ark. in 1836. 
Three years afterward he fought a duel with Dr William Howell, killing his 


17th, E. Kirby Chamberlain being elected president 
pro tern. On the same day the assembly elected 
Thomas J. White speaker. 4 On the 20th the governor 
and lieutenant-governor were sworn in by Kimble H. 
Dirnmick, judge of the court of first instance of San 
Jose. Immediately thereafter the legislature in con 
vention proceeded to the election of United States 

antagonist. He was imprisoned over a year, and when liberated returned to 
Tenn., but afterward removed to Miss, and engaged in Choctaw speculation, 
moved with these Indians as their commissary, but finally lost money, and 
went to N. 0., where he was clerk to a firm; from N. O. he went to Texas 
in the winter of 1845-6, and in Mex. war joined Hay s regiment. From 
Mex. he came to Cal. in 1848. W. D. Fair was born in Va, and came to 
Cal. via Rio Grande and Gila route in 1846 from Miss., as president of the 
Mississippi Rangers. 

4 The assemblymen came from the several districts as follows: San Diego, 
O. S. Witherby; Los Angeles, M. Martin, A. P. Crittenden; Santa Barbara, 
J. Scott, J. M. Covarrubias; San Luis Obispo, H. A. Tefft; Monterey, T. R. 
Per Lee, J. S. Gray; San Jose 1 , Joseph Aram, Benjamin Cory, Elam Brown; 
S. F., W. Van Voorhies, Edmund Randolph, J. H. Watson, Alexander Pat 
terson, Alfred Wheeler, L. Stowell, and Clarke; Sonoma, J. E. Brackett, J. 
S. Bradford; Sac., P. B. Cornwall, H. C. Card well, John T. Hughes, E. W. 
McKinstry, J. Bigler, George B. Tingley, Madison Walthall, Thomas J. 
White, John F. Williams; San Joaquin, B. F. Moore, R. W. Heath, D. P. 
Baldwin, Charles M. Creaner, J. S. K. Ogier, James C. Moorehead, J. F. 
Stephens, Van Beascheten, Crane, and Stewart, 4 of these being substitutes 
for members who resigned during the session. Those who resigned were 
Martin, Van Voorhies, Cornwall, and speaker White. Joseph Aram was a na 
tive of N. Y., who came to Cal. in 1846. Elam Brown, born in N. Y. in 1797, 
removed to Mo., and from there to Cal. in 1846. E. B. Bateman immigrated 
from Mo. in 1847, to Stockton, Cal. D. P. Baldwin, born in Ala, came to 
Cal. in May 1849, and resided at Sonora, in what is now Tuolumne co. A. 
P. Crittenden, born in Lexington, Ky, married in Va, settled in Texas in 
1839, left his family in Tex. and came to Los Angeles, Cal., in 1849. B. 
Cory, born in Ohio in 1825, came to Cal. in 1847, and resided at San Jose. 
Jose M. Covarrubias, born in France, came to Cal. in 1834, and resided at 
Sta Barbara. James A. Gray, born in Phil., came to Cal. in 1846, in N. Y. 
regt. John F. Hughes, born in Louisville, Ky, came to Cal. in 1849. Thomas 
J. Henly, born in Ind., came to Cal. in 1849, through the South Pass; resided 
at Sac. Joseph C. Moorehead, born in Ky, came to Cal. in 1846. Elisha 
W. McKinstry, born in Detroit, Mich., came to Cal. in 1849; resided at Sut- 
ter. J. S. K. Ogier, born in S. C., removed to N. 0., and thence to Cal. in 
1848. Edmund Randolph, born in Va, migrated via N. 0. to S. F. in 1849. 
Geo. B. Tingley, born in 1815, in Ohio, came to Cal. in 1849. John Cave, born 
in Ky. Alfred Wheeler, born in N. Y. city, in 1820, came to Cal. in 1849; 
resided at S. F. Marin Co. Hist., 210-12; Colusa Sun, in Southern Calif or- 
nian, May 22, 1873; Anthropographic Chart, 1867; Cal. State Register, 1857. 
The secretary of the senate was J. F. Howe; asst sec., W. B. Olds; enrolling 
clerk, A. W. Lockett; engrossing clerk, B. Dexter resigned April 10, 1850 
succeeded by F. T. Eldridge; sergt-at-arms, T. J. Austin; door-keeper, E. 
Russell. The clerk of the assembly was E. H. Thorp, who, being elected 
clerk of the supreme court Feb. 21st, was succeeded by John Nugent; asst 
clerk, F. H. Sandford; enrolling clerk, A. D. Ohr, appointed asst clerk, and 
Sandford enrolling clerk in Jan. Engrossing clerk, C. Mitchell; transcribing 
clerk elected in Jan., G. 0. McMullin; sergt-at-arms, S. W. Houston; door 
keeper, J. H. Warrington. Hayes* Scraps, Cal. Notes, iii. 198. 


senators, this being the object of the so early meeting 
of that body, the candidates being upon the ground, 
plying their trade of blandishments, including an inex 
haustible supply of free liquor. 5 

Of candidates there were several, Thomas Butler 
King, John C. Fremont, William M. Gwin, Thomas 
J. Henley, John W. Geary, Robert Semple, and H. 
W. Halleck. On the first count Fremont received 
twenty-nine out of forty-six votes, and was declared 
elected. On the second count Gwin received twenty- 
two out of forty-seven votes, increased to twenty- four 
at the third count, and he was declared elected. Hal 
leck ran next best ; then Henley. King received ten 
votes on the first count, the number declining to two, 
and at last to one. 6 Charges were preferred against 
him, and he was not wanted because he w r as thought 

* O 

not to be so much interested in California as in his 
own personal aggrandizement. Fremont enjoyed the 
popularity which came from his connection with the 
conquest, and his subsequent trial in Washington, in 
which he had the sympathies of the people. Gwin 

5 It has always been alleged that the American-Californians of an early 
period drank freely, and this body has been styled the legislature of a thou 
sand drinks. However this may have been, it was the best legislature Cali 
fornia ever had. For what they drank, the members returned thanks. All 
were honest there was nothing to steal. Their pay was no inducement, as 
they could make thrice as much elsewhere. Furthermore, this was before 
Calif ornians began to sell themselves as political prostitutes. In Curriys In 
cidents, 7, I find it stated that the first legislature was chiefly made up of the 
* chivalry, who were aggressive, and so on, but the evidence is the other 
way. I should say that chiefly they were hard-working men. The candidates 
for the U. S. senatorship kept ranches, as they were termed, or open houses, 
where all might enter, drink freely, and wish their entertainer s election. But 
the legislature of a thousand drinks received its designation, not on account 
of this prodigal custom, but through the facetiousnass of Green of Sac. , who, 
for lobbying purposes, kept a supply of liquors near the state-house, and 
whenever the legislature adjourned, he cried to the members, Come let us 
take a thousand drinks. Crosby says : There were a few roistering men in 
the legislature, more in the assembly, the senate being a small body, and 
composed of very circumspect gentlemen. Early Events, 61-2; Fernandez, 
Cal.. MS., 165; Watsonville Pdjaro Times, April 29, 1865; Owen, Sta Clara 

Valley, 10; Hayes* Scraps, Cal. Notes, v. 30; Sac. Record Union, March 27, 1875; 
Hall, San Jose Hist., 220; Peckfiam, Biog., in San Jost Pioneer, July 28, 
1877, 30. 

6 Jour. Cal. Leg., 1850, 23-26; Petaluma Argus, Sept. 12, 1873; Polynesian, 
vi. 150; Amer. Quart. Reg., iv. 515; Sup. S. F. Pac. News, Dec. 27, 1849; 
TuthM, Cal., 76-7; Cal. Jour. Sen., 1850, 38-9; ld. t 1851, 19-21. 


was no less selfish in his aspirations than King; but 
there was this difference : he was an abler man, cooler 
and more 1 crafty. Furthermore, while King cared 
only for himself and for the present, Gwin s selfishness 
was less proximate and prominent. He had a distinct 
object in view, which concerned the future of the coun 
try. His sympathy with the fire-eaters of the south 
was well understood, and more than anything else 
elected him ; for in the then existing struggle between 
the north and south in congress, the northern men in 
the legislature saw that to elect two senators with 
anti-slavery sentiments would prevent the admission 
of the state. Conceding that honesty was his best 
policy, his fitness for the position was admitted, while 
his personal interests, it was believed, would lead him 
to labor for the good of California. 

On the 21st Governor Burnett delivered his inaugu 
ral message to the legislature. "The first question 
you have to determine," said he, "is whether you will 
proceed at once with the general business of legisla 
tion, or await the action of congress upon the question 
of our admission into the union." Upon this he 
made an argument which was conclusive of their right 
to proceed; made some comments on the science of 
law; cautioned them concerning the "grave and deli 
cate subject of revenue," informing them that the ex 
penses of the state government for the first year would 
probably exceed half a million dollars; recommended 
a direct tax, to be received in California gold at six 
teen dollars per ounce; advised the exclusion of free 
negroes from the state; and made suggestions touch 
ing the judiciary. It is a verbose document, charac 
terized by no special ability. The exclusion of free 
negroes was always a hobby of Burnett s. When he 
revised the Oregon fundamental laws in 1844, he 
introduced the same measure against negroes, which 
was finally incorporated in the constitution of that 
state, where it remains to this day, a dead letter. 
The negro had never so great an enemy as his former 


master, with whom there was no compromise , it was 
master or nothing. Burnett had been brought up in 
a slave state, and although he had resigned the privi 
leges of master, he could not brook the presence of 
the enslaved race in the character of freedmen. Then, 
too, if to exclude black slaves was a popular measure, 
to exclude black freemen must be more popular, and 
popularity was by no means to be ignored. There 
was a good deal of apprehension among men of Bur 
nett s class, who were alarmed at the rumor that many 
southern men designed bringing their slaves to work 
in the mines, taking the risk of their becoming free. 
In point of fact, a good many persons of the African 
race were brought to California in 1849 and 1850, 
who being thus made free, asserted their rights and 
remained free, often acquiring comfortable fortunes 
and becoming useful citizens. As soon as it became 
established by experience that slavery could not exist 
in California, even for a short time, the importation 
of negroes ceased, and there was no need of a law for 
their exclusion, and the preservation of society from 
the evils apprehended from their presence. But the 
effort to maintain the right of the master to the slave 7 

7 An advertisement appeared in the Jackson Mississippian, of April 1, 1850, 
headed, California, the Southern Slave Colony, inviting citizens of the slave- 
holding states wishing to go to Cal. to send their names, number of slaves, 
period of contemplated departure, etc., to the Southern Slave Colony, Jack 
son, Miss. It was stated that the design of the friends of the enterprise was 
to settle in the richest mining and agricultural portions of Cal., and to se 
cure the uninterrupted enjoyment of slave property. The colony was to 
comprise about 5,000 white persons, and 10,000 slaves. The manner of effect 
ing the organization was to be privately imparted. Placer Times, May 1, 1850. 
Under the influence of the governor s message, and their apprehensions, the 
assembly passed a bill excluding free negroes, which was indefinitely post 
poned in the senate. Jour. Cal. Leg., 1850, 1232-3, 347. On the 23d of May 
a colored man named Lawrence was married to a colored woman, Margaret, 
hired out to service by a white man named William Marr, who claimed her 
as his slave. Early on the following morning Marr forced the woman, by 
threats, and showing a pistol, to leave her husband and go with him. He 
afterward offered to resign her on payment of $1,000. Placer Times, May 27, 
1850. A white man named Best brought a colored woman, Mary, to Nevada, 
Cal., in 1850, from Mo. He was a cruel master, but she remained with him 
until he returned in 1854, when she borrowed money to purchase her freedom. 
Soon after she married Harry Dorsey, a colored man, and live I happily with 
him until her death in 1864. -Nevada Gazette, Sept. 3, 1884. Charles, a 
colored man, came to Cal. as the slave of Lindal Hayes. He escaped, and 
was brought before Judge Thomas on a writ of habeas corpus, and discharged, 


was not relinquished for a number of years, as will be 
seen hereafter. 

On the 22d and succeeding days contributions were 
made to a state library of the Natural History of the 
State of New York, and reports upon the common 
schools and agriculture of that state, Dana s Mineral 
ogy, Fremont s Geographical Memoir and Map, the Mier 
Expedition, and a copy of the Bible. If any of the 
members found time to look between the covers of 
these improving books, it does not appear in the jour 

An election of state officers resulted in making 
Richard Roman, treasurer; John S. Houston, comp 
troller; Edward J. C. Kewen, attorney-general; 8 and 
Charles A. Whiting, surveyor-general. S. C. Has 
tings was elected chief justice of the supreme court, 
and Henry A. Lyons and Nathaniel Bennett associ 
ate judges. There was not so much as a quire of 
writing paper, an inkstand, or a pen belonging to the 
state, nor any funds with which to purchase them. 
No contract had been made for printing, and each sena- 

the judge maintaining that under the laws of Mexico, which prevailed at the 
time of his arrival, he was free. The constitution of Cal. forbade slavery 
also; and the man having been freed by the Mexican law could not be, in 
any case, seized as a slave. On the 24th of May Charles was brought up for 
breach of the peace, charged with assault on Hayes, and resistance to the 
sheriff. It turned out that the sheriff had no warrant, and that Charles hav 
ing been declared a freeman was justified in defending himself from assault 
by Hayes, and the unauthorized officers who assisted him. Counsellor 
Zabriskie argued the law; also J. W. Winans; Justice Sackett discharged the 
prisoner. Placer Times, May 27, 1850; 8. F. Pac. News, May 29, 1850; Fays 
Statement, 18-21. In Aug. 1850, one Galloway, from Mo., arrived in Cal. 
with his slave Frank, whom he took to the mines, whence he escaped in the 
spring of 1851, going to S. F. Galloway found him in March, and locked 
him up in the Whitehall building on Long wharf. A writ of habeas corpus 
was issued in Frank s behalf by Judge Morrison, the negro stating that he 
believed Galloway meant to take him on board a vessel to convey him to the 
states. Byrne and McGay, and Halliday and Saunders, were employed in 
the interest of the slave, and Frank Pixley for the master, who alleged that 
he was simply travelling with his attendant, and meant to leave the state 
soon. But the judge held that Galloway could not restrain Frank of his lib 
erty, as he was not a fugitive slave, but if brought at all to the state by Gal 
loway, was so brought without his consent. He was allowed to go free. A Ua 
Cal, April 2, 1851; S. F. Courier, March 31, 1851. There were many slaves 
in the mines in 1 85 1 , and many appeals in court for the reclamation of slaves. 
Borthwick, 164-5; Hayes Scraps, Angeles, MS., i. 28. 

8 Kewen resigned in 1850, and James A. McDougall was elected to fill the 


tor had ordered a copy of the governor s message for 
liis individual use In this strait a joint resolution 
that the secretary of state, comptroller, judges of the 
supreme court, and all other state officers should have 
power to procure the necessary blank books, station 
ery, and furniture for their offices, was offered and 
lost. The weather, their accommodations, and their 
poverty together were almost more than men who 
had sacrificed their own interests to perform a public 
duty were able to bear; but they sturdily refused to 
adjourn, taking only three days at the Christinas holi 
days in which to recreate, and wait for printing pro 

To lighten their hearts the inhabitants of San Jose 
gave them a ball on the 27th of December, in the 
assembly-chamber, 9 and hither came the beauty and 
chivalry of California, at least as much of it as could 
get there through a drenching rain, on a Liliputian 
steamboat, from Benicia, and by whatever means they 
had from other directions. About the 1st of January 
they settled down to the work before them. 

Green, the irrepressible senator to whom everything 
was a huge joke, who had been elected in a frolic, and 
thought legislation a comedy, had very inappropriately 
been placed at the head of the finance committee, and 
brought in a bill for a temporary loan at ten per cent 
per annum, when the lowest bank rate was five per 
cent per month. While the legislature was struggling 
with the problem of how to get money for current 
expenses, Michael Reese, long a prominent money 
bags of San Francisco, made a suggestion that they 
pass a bill authorizing the issue of treasury notes, 
payable in six or twelve months, with interest at the 
lowest current rate, and in small denominations, which 
hotel-keepers would accept for board, promising to 
take some of them himself for money he did not say 

9 Annals S. F., 237; Cal State Register, 1857, 189; S. F. Pac. News, April 
27, 1850; Hayes 1 Scraps, An<jeles, i. 15; Oakland Transcript, in West Coast Sig 
nal, May 27, 1874; S. F. Argonaut, Dec. 1, 1877. 


at the rate of fifty cents on the dollar. An act author 
izing a loan of $200, 000, to pay the immediate demands 
on the treasury until a permanent fund could be raised, 
passed, and was approved January 5th, proposals to 
be received until the 25th, the loan to be for a term 
of not less than six, nor more than twelve years. An 
other act was passed in February creating a tempo 
rary state loan, authorizing the treasurer to issue the 
bonds of the state in sums of $100 and upwards to 
$1,000, payable in six months, and not exceeding in 
the aggregate $300,000, with interest at three per 
cent per month. The bonds were to remain at par 
value, be received for taxes, and redeemed as soon as 
there was sufficient money in the treasury. 10 

Laws, enacted for the collection of revenue, taxed 
all real and personal estate, excepting only that de 
voted to public uses and United States property, 
exempting the amount of the holder s indebtedness, 
and exempting the personal property of widows and 
orphan children to the amount of $1,000 each. Money 
was construed to be personal property, and incorporated 
companies were liable to be taxed on their capital. 
The amount levied for the year 1850 was fifty cents 
on every $100 worth of taxable property, and a poll 
tax of $5 on every male inhabitant over twenty-one 
and under fifty years of age. It was a peculiarity of 
California at that period that there were few men 
here fifty years old, excepting the elders of the native 
Californians. The argonauts were all in their prime. 

Courts of second ana third instance were abolished, 
and courts of first instance retained until the district 
courts should be organized. Nine judicial districts 
were created, the first comprising the counties of San 
Diego and Los Angeles; the second Santa Barbara 
and San Luis Obispo; the third Monterey, Santa 
Cruz, Santa Clara, and Contra Costa; the fourth San 
Francisco; the fifth Calaveras, San Joaquin, Tuol- 

l *Cal. Statutes, 1850, 53-4, 458; Crosby, Events in Gal, MS., 63; S. F. Alto, 
Jan 14, 1850 


umne, and Mariposa; the sixth Sacramento and El 
Dorado; the seventh Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, 
and Mendocino; the eighth Yolo, Sutter, and Yuba; 
the ninth Butte, Colusa, Trinity, and Shasta. The 
judges were to be elected by the people, and commit 
sioned by the governor. Besides the supreme court 
elected by the legislature, which should hold its ses 
sions at the seat of government after holding first one 
special term at San Francisco, there was created the 
municipal court of superior judges for the city of San 
Francisco, consisting of a chief justice and two assor 
ciate justices. Justices of the peace attended to minor 
causes. Crosby was chairman of the judiciary com 
mittee, and made an able report on the adoption of 
the common law, as against the civil law, as the rule 
governing the decisions of the courts in the absence of 
statutory law. 11 

De la Guerra was chairman of the committee on 
counties and their boundaries, for the senate, and 
Cornwall for the assembly. The state was divided 
into twenty-seven counties, and a commission ap 
pointed to report the derivation and definition of their 
several names, of which Vallejo was the chief, and 
made an interesting report. 19 No objection seems to 
have been offered by the inhabitants to the boundaries, 
unless in the case of Monterey district, which in Au 
gust 1849 had petitioned the local legislature against a 
proposed division. However, the state legislature re 
ceived two petitions from Santa Cruz, and from 141 
Americans, headed by A. A. Hecox, and another 
from nineteen native Californians, headed by Juan 
Perez, asking for a separate county, which was set off 
in accordance with a report of a joint delegation from 
Monterey and San Jose. 13 

11 Crosby says there was quite an element of civil law in the legislature, 
which naturally might be, as the foreign element was chiefly descended from 
the Latin races. Being a New Yorker, he favored the English common law. 
His report was scanned by Bennett, and being sent to members of the bar in 
that state, he received as a testimonial a handsome seal engraved with his 
crest. Rockwell, Span, and Mex. Law, 506. 

l *Jour. Cal Leg., 1850, 523-7. 

13 Santa Cruz Sentinel, Aug. 1, 1868; Jour. Cal Leg., 92. 


The county seats were established at the principal 
towns, except in the cases of Marin and Mendocino, 
attached to Sonoma for judicial purposes; and Colusa 
and Trinity attached to Shasta until organized, some 
of the northern counties being left to choose their own 
seats of justice. 14 The expenses of county govern 
ments were to be defrayed out of licenses collected in 
them, upon every kind of trade and business except 
mining by citizens of California. 15 County elections 
were to be held on the first Monda} 7 of April 1852, 
and on the same day of every second year thereafter; 
but the annual state election for members of the as 
sembly, and other officers required to be chosen by 
the qualified electors of the state or of districts, was 
fixed for the first Monday in October. 

The militia law declared subject to enrolment for 
military duty all free white men between the ages of 
eighteen and forty-five, excepting such as had served 
a full term in the army or navy, or were members of 
volunteer companies within the state. The militia 
and independent companies were organized into four 
divisions and eight brigades ; the governor to be com 
mand er-in-chief, who might appoint two aides-de-camp, 
with the rank of colonels of cavalry; but the legisla 
ture should elect the major and brigadier-generals, one 
adjutant and one quartermaster general, with the rank 
of brigadier-general, all to be commissioned by the 

14 To be more explicit, and preserve some early names: In San Diego, Los 
Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, S. F., Sac., 
Napa, and Sonoma, the county seats bad the same name as the county. Of. 
Santa Clara, San Jose was made the county seat; Contra Costa, Martinez; 
Solano, Benicia; Yolo, Fremont; El Dorado could choose between Coloma 
and Placerville, and took the latter; Sutter, Oro; Yuba, Marys ville; Butte 
had to choose between Butte and Chico, and took the latter; Colusa was at 
tached to Butte co. ; Shasta, Reading; Trinity was attached to Shasta; Cala- 
veras was first given Pleasant Valley for a county seat, but it was changed a 
few weeks later to Double Springs; San Joaquin, Stockton; Tuolumne, Stew 
art, formerly known as Sonoran Camp; Mariposa, Aqua Fria. An act was 
passed providing for the removal and permanent location of the seats of jus 
tice, as required by the people. 

15 A law was enacted taxing foreign miners $20 per month as part of the 
revenue of the state, until the gov. should be officially informed of the pas 
sage of a law by the U. S. congress assuming the control of the mines of the 
state. Gal. Statutes, 1850, 221-2. 


governor. All persons liable to enrolment, and not 
members of any company, were required to pay two 
dollars annually into the county treasury. The money 
thus collected was called the military fund, which was 
increased by the exemption tax of minors required of 
their parents or guardians, and applied solely to the 
payment of the expenses of that department of the 
government, including salaries of officers. 16 The four 
major-generals of division elected were Thomas J. 
Green, John E. Brackett, David F. Douglas, and 
Joshua H. Bean, in the order here given. The gen 
erals of brigade were J. H. Eastland and William M. 
Winn, 1st division; Robert Semple and Major Mc 
Donald, 2d division; John E. Andison and D. P. 
Baldwin, 3d division; Thomas H. Bowen and J. M. 
Covarrubias, 4th division. T. R. Per Lee was chosen 
adjutant and Joseph G. Moorehead quartermaster- 
general. Only these last two officers drew any salary. 
In the following October, the Indians being trouble 
some in El Dorado county, the governor called on the 
sheriff of that county. William Rogers, to raise troops 
to operate against them, and the legislature of 1851 
passed laws providing for the payment of Rogers as 
major, and of the troops employed in two expeditions 
against the Indians, but took no notice of generals, 
who remained in office merely for the distinction of 
their rank. Nor was the law amended for many 
years; but in 1872 the organized, uniformed troops 
of the state were the subject of legislation which 
converted them into the present National Guard, con 
sisting of thirty-two infantr}^ six cavalry, and two 

16 Cal Statutes, 1850, 190-6. This law was several times revised, and in 
1872 took its present form. Cal. Codes, 154-84. Only two officers were 
salaried; the adjutant-general receiving $1,000 per annum, and the quarter 
master-general $2,000. Gen. Winn brought in a claim in 1800 for services 
rendered, which were not, however, recognized by the legislature, as no law 
could then be found authorizing the payment of any officer above the rank of 
major. Cal. Jour. Assem., 1860, 253-4. The clerk of the honse military com. 
was Davis Divine, a lawyer from Oneida co., N. Y., who camo to Cal. in 1849, 
and settled in San Jose. He was also clerk of the judiciary com. of the senate. 
He was for many years justice of the peace and judge of the court of sessions; 
and projected the first R. R. co. to build a road to S. F. from San Jose. 
Owens, Santa Clara Valley, 37. 


artillery companies, whose pay when in service is the 
same as that of United States officers and soldiers. 
All claims are submitted to a board of military audi 
tors, consisting of the commander-in-chief, adjutant- 
general, and attorney-general; and its warrants are 
paid by the state treasurer. The sum of $300 is annu 
ally allowed to each company of over sixty members, 
a proportionate amount to smaller companies, and $100 
to each detachment of engineers, for expenses. Three 
officers are salaried : the armorer, adjutant-general, and 
assistant adjutant-general 

An act was passed, which was allowed by tne 
schedule to the constitution, to the first legislature, 
authorizing a loan in New York on the faith and 
credit of the state, for the expenses of the state, not to 
exceed $1,000,000, at ten per cent per annum, and re 
deemable in twenty years, or if desired by the state 
at any time after ten years. This unfortunate will 
ingness to plunge into debt was a part of the mental 
condition of Californians at this period, and was in 
marked contrast with the prudent economy of the 
early Oregonians. Both were the result of circum 
stances. In Oregon there was no money; in Califor 
nia there promised to be no limit to it. The amount 
required to pay the salaries of state officers was $107,- 
500, which did not include the state printing, always 
considerable, nor the pay of legislators at sixteen dol 
lars per diem, and equally extravagant mileage. Yet 
it was difficult to retain a quorum, such were the in 
ducements to members to look after their mining or 
other interests, and the sergeant-at-arms found his 
office no sinecure. At one period the senate, in order 
to go on with its business, was reduced to the neces 
sity of deciding that eight constituted a quorum in 
stead of nine, and one ever-busy senator was arrested 
for being absent long enough to pay a sick member a 
morning visit. Several resignations and new elections 
took place, and one assemblyman never claimed his 


seat. Nevertheless, the code of 1850 is a very- 
creditable performance, liberal in its tone, and re 
markably well adjusted to the new conditions in which 
the legislators found themselves. 

The resolutions passed on the subject of slavery 
were sounding brass and tinkling cymbal ten years 
later, 17 but were sound democratic doctrine, though 
somewhat unsound democratic grammar, in 1850. 
The democratic party in America was fast becoming the 
pro-slavery party. In congress this party insisted on 
the right of a state to determine the question of slav 
ery for itself, but when such state elected to be free, 
endeavored to keep it out of the union. California, 
with a strong southern element, was controlled by 
northern sentiment; and the interests of all men as 
individuals demanding the admission of the state, 
there was by universal consent at this time an effort 
to ignore the necessity for the tremendous struggle 
going on at the national capital. At a later period 
some of these same men were drawn into the conflict. 

One great error committed by the first legislature 
was in not making a permanent location of the capital. 
Instead of so doing, the question was left open to 
election between the towns aspiring to the honor, 18 
and the seat of government was hawked about for 
years in a manner disgraceful to the state. Monterey, 
San Jose, Sacramento, and Valleju all desired and 

17 * That any attempts by congress to interfere with the institution of slavery 
in any of the territories of the U. S. would create just grounds of alarm in 
many of the states of the union; and that such interference is unnecessary, 
inexpedient, and in violation of good faith; since, when any such territory 
applies for admission into -the union as a state, the people thereof alone have 
the right, and should be left free and unrestrained, to decide such question 
for themselves. Broderick, who had been elected to fill the place of Bennett, 
resigned in January, moved the insertion of the following: That opposition 
to the admission of a state into the union with a constitution prohibiting 
slavery, on account of such prohibition, is a policy wholly unjustifiable and 
unstatesman-like, and in violation of that spirit of concession and compromise 
by which alone the federal constitution was adopted, and by which alone it 
can be perpetuated, which addition was adopted. Jour. CaL Leg., 1850, 

18 Cal Statutes, 1850, 412; 8. F. Pac. News, Oct. 5, 7, 1850. 

HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 21 


made bids 19 for the seat of government. Sacramento 
offered public buildings, and actually secured $1,000,- 
000 in subscriptions toward this object. The offer 
of Vallejo being considered superior 20 in many respects, 
the people voted to accept his proposition. But when 
the second legislature met, they found the new town 
remote and dull, hotel accommodations limited, and 
amusement lacking; whereupon, after a few days, they 
adjourned to San Jose, which was still the legal cap 
ital, no act having been passed changing its location, 
for which reason and others, the executive had re 
mained at San Jose, this town being his residence. 
On the 4th of February a bill was passed making 
Vallejo the permanent seat of government. At this 
place the third legislature was convened, but before 
the end of the month removed to Sacramento, "to 
procure such accommodations as were absolutely and 
indispensably necessary for a proper discharge of their 
legislative duties," the archives and the state officers 
joining in these perambulations by land and water, the 
latter under protest, and the former at great risk of 
destruction. On the 1st of June, 1852, the archives 
were carried back to Vallejo, and the state officers 
ordered to transport themselves thither. The legis 
lature of 1853 was induced to move to Benicia, where 
it was solicited to accept for the state a present of a 
legislative hall, and other property, and on the 4th of 
February and 18th of May of that year passed acts 
making Benicia the "permanent seat of government." 

19 San Jose subscribed a tract of land a mile square, all eligibly situated, 
with a perfect title; water and building stone on the land; the consideration 
being that the state should lay it off in lots, to be sold to the best advantage 
(except such portions as should be reserved for state buildings), ^ of the pro 
ceeds to go to the subscribers and to the erection of the public buildings. 
Val., Doc., xiii. 72; Sta Clara Co. Hist. Atlas, 10-11; Tuthill, Hist. Cal, 391- 
2; Gal. Jour. Sen., 1850, 498-504, 1302, 1307, 1310; Richardson, Hist. Vallejo 
City, in Cal. Pioneers, no. 3, p. 12. 

20 See chapter on birth of towns, this vol.; Cal. Statutes, 1851, 430; Marin 
Co. Hist., 212-14; Val, Doc., MS., 35, 221; Id., MS., xiii. 72, 179, 211, 218, 
228; Cal Statutes, 1853, 309; Vallejo Chronicle, July 6, 1867; Id., Jan. 25, 
1868; 8. F. Evening Picayune, July 16, 1851; Oakland Transcript, May 13, 
1874; Eureka West Coast Signal, May 27, 1874; Sacramento Transcript, Feb. 
1, 1851; Polynesian, vi. 150; Assem. Jour., 1852, 500-2, 701-2, 99; Solano 
Suisun Press, July 17, 1867; Cal Sen. Jour. App. y 503. 


Vallejo being thus abandoned, the friends of San 
Josd who were numerous in San Francisco, and com 
prised some of the principal men in the state, and the 
state officers, began to plot for the return of the cap 
ital to that pueblo; while the Sacramentans renewed 
their efforts to secure this anything but permanent 
blessing. The fifth legislature met at Benicia the 
second day of January, 1854, and on the 25th of Feb 
ruary again permanently located the seat of govern 
ment at Sacramento. But by this time the executive 
and judicial branches of the government had become 
so bewildered that the latter refused to obey the 
plain letter of an act requiring the supreme court to 
hold its sessions " at the capital of the state," and sat 
instead at San Francisco, whither it had been ordered 
in 1850 to betake itself, and two of the judges de 
clared Sacramento not the legal capital. District 
Judge Hester also threatened those state officers who 
had complied with the law and repaired to Sacramen 
to with an attachment unless they came to San Jose, 
thus placing themselves above the legislative power 
through which they held their office. To test the 
question, suits were brought before Hester, of the 
third judicial district, and the mandamus case was 
argued by Parker H. French and Hall, attorneys for 
the complainants, Thomas L. Vermeule, and others; 
P. L. Edwards, he who in 1834 accompanied Jason 
Lee to Oregon, and the acting attorney-general, 
Stewart, appearing for the defence. Ground was 
taken against the right of individuals to sue the state. 
The relators, however, were allowed to amend their 
complaint to read, "The people of the state," as plain 
tiffs. They relied chiefly upon the position that San 
Jos was the constitutional capital, which the defence 
denied, denying also that the state officers were re 
quired by the constitution or laws to reside or keep 
their offices at the seat of government, and denying 
that they constituted any inferior tribunal, corpora- 


tion, board, or person against whom a writ of man 
damus might issue according to statute. 

Judge Hester s decision was as peculiar as the other 
features of the case. He placed himself on the defens 
ive, and in the light of a partisan, by declaring that 
the legislature had in March passed an act requiring 
the supreme court, then in session at San Francisco, 
to hold its sessions "at the capital of the state;" and 
that the supreme court, "in determining as to the loca 
tion of their sessions, as required by the act, decided 
that San Jose was the capital, and had since in pur 
suance held their sessions there." The reasoning by 
which the court had come to this conclusion was by 
assuming that the constitution established the capital 
at San Jose ; that the second legislature removed it to 
Vallejo; that by reason of the failure of Vallejo to 
fulfil his bond, upon which the removal was condi 
tioned, the act became void, and the seat of govern 
ment reverted to San Jose, from which it had never 
been removed by a constitutional vote of two thirds 
of both houses of the legislature. On the other 
hand, Chief Justice Murray differed from his asso 
ciates, Heydenfeldt and Wells, and from Judge 
Hester. He held that the legislature had acted in a 
constitutional manner in fixing the seat of government 
by the act of 1851; and had an equal right to remove 
to any other place by a majority vote, the two-thirds 
vote being applicable only to the act of first removal 
from San Jose, and therefore that Sacramento was 
the legal capital of the state. 

To settle these vexed questions a special term of 
the supreme court was ordered to be held at Benicia, 
in January 1855, at which time the legislature would 
be in session. A crisis had evidently arrived when a 
final decision must be made, and the legislature must 
vindicate itself. In the mean time the case of the 
people against the state officers had been appealed to 
the supreme court, and submitted on stipulation that 
a decision rendered out of term should stand as if 


given at the regular session. The opinion rendered 
in December reversed the judgment of the court 
below, and the highest judicial authority in the state 
made its obeisance to the itinerant law-making power. 21 
From that time to this, with the exception of the 
winter of 1862, when the great flood forced everybody 
out of Sacramento who could go, the seat of legisla 
tion and government has remained at Sacramento. 

That money was used freely to corrupt members of 
the legislature while the seat of government was for 
sale, no one has ever pretended to doubt. 22 If the 
practice which has prevailed down to the present time, 
of buying and selling votes, could be said to have 
originated in the race for the capital, it is to be 
regretted that the constitution and first legislature 
left the subject open to this species of patriotism. 

In February 1850, the governor laid before the 
assembly an address from the citizens of the "State 
of Deseret," presented by John Wilson and Arnasa 
Lyman, delegates, asking that a new convention be 
held, to allow the people of California to vote upon the 
proposition of uniting Deseret and California tempo 
rarily in one state. The reason given for this request 
was that when the men of Deseret formed the consti 
tution of their state, they neglected to exclude slavery, 
which now they perceived, in order to relieve congress 
of the existing conflict, they should have done. The 
true reason appeared to be, however, the desire to se 
cure the privileges of state governrnei^t without a 
sufficient population, and peradventure to prevent 
California being first admitted, with the boundary as 

, Statement, MS., 4; Santa Clara News, Nov. 7, 1867; Placer Times, 
Jan. 15, 1852; Gal Statutes, 1853, 217; Cal Jour. Sen., 1854, 574, 603, 601; 
Cal Code, 1854, 45; Alta Cal, May 27, 1854; Sac. Union, Nov. 13, 1854. 

22 A writer in the 8. F. Post, April 14, 1877, says that he was told by a 
shrewd and wily politician that to secure the passage of the bill removing the 
capital to Sac., he paid $10,000 in gold to the reigning king of the lobby, with 
which to purchase the votes of ten senators, and that the money was paid 
over for that purpose, and secured the measure. Though many of our patriots 
who go to Sacramento to make laws can be bought for $200 or $300, as high 
as $50,000 has been paid for a single vote. 


chosen by her, which cut them off from a sea-port 
accessible during the winter season; their constitution 
taking in San Diego and a "very small portion of the 
coast."" 23 The governor, in his message accompanying 
the address, and both branches of the legislature, de 
clined to consider the proposal. 

With regard to the public domain and mineral lands, 
two reports were presented by the committee on these 
subjects. The majority report presented the follow 
ing views: that the mineral wealth of California had 
cost the United States too much to justify its unre 
stricted diffusion among foreigners; that permitting 
persons from South America to work their peons in 
the mines was giving them an advantage over citizens 
of the United States, who were prohibited from bring 
ing their slaves to California for the same purpose; 
that the presence of so large a foreign population as 
was crowding into the mines was dangerous to the 
peace of the country, tending toward collisions, some 
of which had already occurred; that the morals of the 
young men flocking here from the states were jeopar 
dized by enforced contact with the convict class which 
the mines were drawing from Australia; in short, that 
the mines of California should be reserved for her own 
citizens, and that congress be asked to pass laws ex 
cluding all except citizens, and those who honestly 
designed to become such, and empowering the legisla 
ture to make such regulations as should be deemed 
necessary. This report urged on the government the 
policy of not selling, but of leasing, mineral land, in small 
tracts, and only to American citizens or naturalized 
foreigners. This, it was thought, would secure the 
settlement of the mining regions with a moral and 
industrious class. The minority report opposed both 

23 The Mormon legislators assumed that the Sierra Nevada was the proper 
boundary between west and east California. By extending a line south from 
the main chain, where it breaks off above the 35th parallel, the sea is reached, 
owing to the south-east trend of the coast, about San Pedro Bay. For the 
documents in this case, see Jour. Gal Leg., 1850, 756-70; Tuthill, Cal., 287-8; 
Hall, Hist. San Jose, 223-4. 


selling and leasing, either system being sure to result 
in the control by monopolists of vast districts, to the 
exclusion of the great mass of the people, the holders 
combining to reduce labor to the lowest point, and de 
grading the laborer. But congress was to be urged 
to allow the mines to remain free, "a common inheri 
tance for the American people." 

The legislature finally passed joint resolutions on 
the subject of lands and other matters, instructing the 
California delegates to ask for the early extension of 
preemption laws over California; the survey of tracts 
fronting on streams of water; for grants of land for 
educational and other purposes; for the passage of a 
law prohibiting foreigners from working in the mines ; 
for the establishment of custom-houses at Sacramento, 
Stockton, Benicia, Monterey, and San Diego; for a 
branch mint at each of the towns of Stockton and 
Sacramento; for the money collected in California 
from impost duties before the extension of the revenue 
laws of the United States over the country, and until 
the adoption of the state constitution; and to prevent 
any action by congress which should either strengthen 
or impair the title to land in the state of California, 
but to have all questions concerning titles left to the 
judicial tribunals of the country. The only law passed 
touching the subject of lands belonging to the United 
States gave the occupant title by possession, against 
intrusion, provided the amount of land claimed did not 
exceed 160 acres, that it was marked out by boundaries 
easily traced, or had improvements thereon to the 
value of $100; but a neglect to occupy or cultivate 
for a period of three months should be considered an 
abandonment of the claim. Any person claiming 
under this act was entitled to defend his rights accord 
ing to its provisions in courts of law. 

Another act concerned cases of forcible entry and 
detainer, and like the first was intended to prevent 
land troubles, which, as has already been shown, com- 


menced with the conquest of the country, 24 and par 
ticularly in Sacramento, the validity of the Sutter 
title to lands in and contiguous to that city being in 
dispute. But these laws had exactly the opposite 
effect to that intended, since they gave vitality to the 
squatter organization, which became contumelious in 
consequence, the discontent leading up to serious riot 
ing, in which several officers of the law and citizens 
were killed. 

The squatter party was composed chiefly of men 
from the Missouri border, who had no knowledge of 
Spanish grants, and who regarded the whole country 
as belonging to the United States and subject to pre 
emption the same class of men who rooted out the 
Hudson s Bay Company from Oregon, schooled in 
the idea that all soil under the American flag is free 
to all Americans until patented to individuals by the 
government. Finding that the Sacramento town com 
pany was making money freely out of sales of land 
to which, in their estimation, no title had yet been 
obtained, they sat down on vacant lots within and 
without the surveyed limits, and without reference to 
the fact that other men had purchased those same 
parcels of land at high prices from the Spanish grantee 
and his associates, proceeded to enclose and build upon 
the same. To the laws passed by the legislature they 
paid no heed, except to condemn them as hostile to 
themselves, refusing to yield obedience to a govern 
ment not yet sanctioned by congress. This subject 
has been treated of in a general way in my chapter on 
Mexican land titles; but the incidents attending the 

24 As early as 1847 and 1848 the Gal. Star published articles advocating a 
territorial legislature in order that laws might be enacted for the settlement 
of land titles. The author of these articles was probably L. W. Hastings, to 
whom I have often had occasion to refer. Later, when he was a member of 
the constitutional convention, he was held in check by the necessity of making 
such regulations as congress would pronounce valid and just under the treaty. 
But Hastings only represented the western idea of land matters. To the 
people belonged all the unoccupied U. S. territory. Cal. was, after the con 
quest and treaty, U. S. territory; therefore Cal. belonged to the people. 
Better informed men held similar views, founded vipon the right and duty of 
the people to frustrate monopolies a higher law doctrine. 


squatter outbreak .at Sacramento offering a striking 
commentary upon the critical condition of the country 
while waiting for congress to admit the state, I append 
an account condensed in the form of a note. 23 

25 Sacramento was surveyed in the autumn of 1848, for Sutter by Warner, 
when Burnett became agent and attorney for Sutter, to sell lota and col 
lect money. The sales were rapid, at good prices, and naturally excited re 
mark among the ultra-American element in the mines. Sutter, who had been 
in embarrassed circumstances, was quickly relieved, and under the excite 
ment of success sold land to which his title was doubtful, and as it afterward 
proved worthless that is, on his Micheltorena grant, which was made to 
cover, as the squatters declared, the whole Sacramento Valley. An exami 
nation of the Sutter grants showed, as many believed, that the Alvarado grant 
did not reach to the city of Sacramento by a distance of 4 miles, as has else 
where been stated. Those who had no respect for Spanish and Mexican 
grants believing that to be valid they must first be confirmed by congress, 
and that congress would never allow such vast tracts to pass to single individ 
uals; and those who believed that the Alvarado grant did not cover the city 
of Sac. began in 1847 to organize themselves into a Settlers Association, 
Placer Times, June 3, 1850, and to squat upon land both in the town and out 
side of it. About the middle of October, Z. M. Chapman, erroneously called 
George Chapman in Morses Directoi-y of Sac., 1853-4, 17, went upon a piece 
of unoccupied land out of city limits claimed by Priest, Lee, & Co., and cut 
timber, to erect a cabin and for other purposes. In Chapman s account in 
the S. F. Bulletin, of June 15, 1865, which seems an honest statement, he 
says that if a man pitched a tent within the limits of the city he was com 
pelled to pay to Priest, Lee, & Co. a bonus of from $5 to $12 per day. This 
tax fell heavily on the weary gold-seeker who had just come across the plains 
and desired to have a starting-point from which to set out in the spring. It 
was probably designed to compel such persons to purchase lots. But lots 
were held at from Sfc-500 to $6,000 and &8,000; and Chapman, who was a new 
comer, thought he had as good a right to any unoccupied lands adjacent to 
the city as any citizen of the U. S. , squatted accordingly, as I have said, claim 
ing 160 acres. Twelve days after he began building; and when his house was 
ready for the roof, he was visited by Pierre B. Cornwall and another of the 
town owners, who required him to desist from cutting timber, and on his de 
claring his intention to preempt the land, warned him off at the peril of his 
life. Chapman replied that they were all within jurisdiction of civil author 
ity, and as his life was threatened, they must immediately report at the al 
calde s office, or submit to arrest, on which they agreed to dispossess him 
legally if they could. On the following day a writ of ejectment was served 
on Chapman, who was ordered to stand trial a few days afterward. When 
the suit came on many persons were in attendance. Chapman called for 
proofs of Sutter s title, and none satisfactory were produced. Three times 
the case was adjourned, but finally a jury decided in favor of Sutter s claim, 
a decision which the settlers organization ignored, calling the trial a sham. 
It was then that squatting on town lots began, nearly every unoccupied lot 
being taken. Chapman still refused to quit his claim. Placer Times, Dec. 1, 
and 15, 1849. According to his statement, he was offered peaceable possession 
of 20 acres to relinquish his pretensions to the remainder of the 160 acres, 
which offer he refused, when he was waited on by the sheriff with a writ of 
ejectment. Still Chapman refused to vacate the premises, and received an 
other visit from the sheriff, with a posse of 50 men, who, the friends of 
Chapman being absent, pulled his house down, after removing his portable 
property. This was Saturday evening. On Monday a meeting was called 
for Tuesday, which was largely attended, and resolutions passed by the 
squatters that no more houses should be torn down. While the resolutions 


The land questions were indeed of the greatest im 
portance, while congress had failed to take any meas- 

were being passed, the Sutter party set fire to and burned a cabin which 
had been erected on Monday by the squatters on Chapman s claim. Another 
cabin soon arose on the same site, and the squatters held another meeting, at 
which it was resolved to retaliate upon Sacramento if any more squatter 
buildings were destroyed. The rainy season commencing soon afterward, 
and a flood causing both parties to abandon temporarily the city site, no 
further action was taken before the following spring. As for Chapman, he 
returned to the states, having lost his health from exposure to the inclemency 
of that season, and never returned to renew his claim. Not so his associates, 
who in the spring of 1850 redoubled their efforts to prove Sutter s claim illegal. 
At their head in 1850 was Charles Robinson, afterward governor of Kansas, 
who was an immigrant from Fitchburg, Mass., a college graduate, a physi 
cian, and a man of honest convictions, who was fighting for squatterism be 
cause he believed in it. J. Royce, in Overland Monthly, Sept. 1885. 

In May there was a great accession to the squatter force. The organiza 
tion kept a recorder s office, paid a surveyor and register, and issued certificates 
of title as follows: 

We know our rights, and knowing dare defend them. 


Received of fifteen dollars for surveying and recording lot No 

situated on the .... side of street, between and street; 

measuring forty feet front by one hundred and sixty feet in depth, according 
to the general plan of the city of Sacramento, in conformity with the rules of 
the association. 
$15. [Signed] 

Surveyor and Register of the Sacramento Settlers Association. 

The public domain is alike free to all. 

Men who had purchased lots of Priest, Lee, & Co. had their lumber 
brought for building purposes removed, or were forbidden to leave it on the 
ground. Even a sum of money offered by the owner failed to induce the 
squatter to vacate the lot. A petition was forwarded to congress asking in 
effect for a distribution of the public lands among actual settlers. Cases 
brought into the courts, and determined against the squatters produced 110 
change in their proceedings. Two suits were decided adversely to them in Jus 
tice Sackett s court, argued by McCane on their side, and Murray Morrison on 
the opposite side. Nothing, however, moved them from their position; and 
least of all the charge of cowardice, which was hurled at them by the press. 
Complaint being made that the squatters had not a fair hearing in the news 
papers, they were invited to come out openly, and make known their real 
views. Merely abstract ideas do not meet the present occasion. And all 
who properly consider their own interests and the peace and welfare of the 
city must take immediate and summary action. Placer Times, June 3 and 5, 
1850. The excitement increased; squatters fences were pulled down, and 
meetings continued to be held. The squatters endeavored to evade going to 
court, hoping to hold out until the state should be admitted, when they ex 
pected that U. S. laws would come to their relief. Yet they did sometimes 
get into the courts. 

On the 10th of August an adverse decision was rendered in the case of 
John F. Madden, who had squatted on a lot belonging to John P. Rogers 
and others, of the Sutter party, in the county court, by Judge Edward J. 
Willis. The attorneys for Madden talked of appealto the supreme court, on 
the ground that the plaintiff Rogers had shown no title. Judge Willis re 
marked that he knew of no law authorizing such an appeal. The rumor 
spread abroad that Willis had said no appeal could or should be had. No 
appeal! Shall Judge Willis be dictator? Outrage! Such were the ejacula- 


ures providing for their adjustment. The titles to the 
land on which the three chief cities were built were 

tions. A meeting was called for that evening, and resolutions of resistance 
to oppression passed. On the 12th, being Monday, Robinson published a mani 
festo refusing to recognize the state legislature and other state officials as 
anything but private citizens, and threatening a resort to arms if molested 
by the sheriff. This amounted to rebellion and revolution, and in fact re 
tarded the execution of the judge s order to dispossess the squatters on the 
land in question. About 200 men were assembled on the disputed territory. 
Robinson had about 50 names enrolled of men he could depend upon to fight, 
and managed, by adroitly mingling them with the other 150, to make his army 
appear larger than it really was. Mayor Bigelow appeared on horseback 
and made an address, advising the crowd to disperse, to which Robinson 
replied respectfully but firmly that his men were upon their own ground, 
and had no hostile intentions unless assailed. An interview was finally ar 
ranged between Robinson and the mayor at his office, when the latter said 
that he would use his personal influence to prevent the destruction of the 
property of the settlers, and also informed Robinson of the postponement of 
the executions issued by the court. The squatters then dispersed for the 
day. Some steps had been taken to organize militia companies, but from the 
unready condition in which the crisis found the municipal government, it is 
apparent that Mayor Bigelow did not realize the danger of the situation. On 
the 13th James McClatchy and Michael Moran were arrested and brought 
before Justice Fake, charged with being party to a plan to resist the enforce 
ment of Judge Willis writ of ejectment. The evidence being strong, in de 
fault of $2,000 bail they were lodged in the prison brig, anchored in the river. 
The county attorney, McCune, was also under arrest, to be tried on the 14th, 
and a warrant was out for Robinson, but he was not taken. Sac. Transcript, 
Aug. 14, 1850. On the morning of the 14th the sheriff, Joseph McKinney, 
seized a house on 2d street, in pursuance of his duty. A party of 30 squat 
ters, under the leadership of James Maloney, retook the house. Maloney, on 
horseback armed with a sword and pistols, next marched down L street to 
the levee, in the direction of the prison ship, followed by a crowd of citizens, 
who thought their intention was to release the prisoners. By this time the 
excitement ran high, although there was no apprehension of bloodshed. The 
affair seemed rather a spectacle than a coming tragedy, and the spectators 
hooted, laughed, and shouted. But the mayor, who could no longer blind 
himself to the necessity of asserting his authority and the power of law, rode 
up and down the streets, and made his proclamation to the people to sustain 
both. Many then ran for arms. The squatters on reaching I street halted 
and began to remove some lumber from a lot; but Maloney checked them, 
alleging that the lumber belonged to one of his friends. He then led them 
up I street, still followed by a laughing and jeering crowd. At the corner of 
I and Second street, seeing the mayor approaching, the citizens waited to 
hear what he might have to say to them, but the squatters marched on, turn 
ing into Third street, and continuing to J street. In the mean time the 
mayor had ordered the citizens to arrest the armed squatters, and with three 
cheers they followed his lead. The two parties approached each other on 
J street, the squatters drawing up in time across Fourth street, facing J. 
The mayor and sheriff rode up, and ordered them to lay down their arms 
and yield themselves to arrest. While they were yet advancing, Maloney 
gave the order to fire, and said distinctly, Shoot the mayor. His order was 
oidy too well obeyed, seve. 1 guns being pointed, though some were elevated 
to be out of range. The hrmg was returned by those citizens who had se 
cured arms; a general melee ensued, and the squatters fled from the field, 
which was now a field of blood. The mayor received no less than 4 wounds, 
in the cheek, the thigh, the hand, and through the body in the region of the 
liver. He recovered in a maimed condition, after a long illness, and a $2,238 


almost hopelessly confused. As a consequence, the 
state was left without property or revenue, without 

bill for five weeks attendance and care at Dr Stillman s house in S. F. , only 
to die of cholera, Nov. 27th following, in the same city. Harding Bigelow was 
born in Mass., of the well-known family of Bigelow, removed to N. Y. in 
early childhood, where he grew to manhood, and subsequently moved to 
the north-west territory. In the explosion of the steamboats Moselle and 
Wilmington he sustained severe losses and narrowly escaped with his life. 
During the Black Hawk war in 111. he had also some hair-breadth escapes. 
He went to the West Indies, New Granada, Peru, Chili, and Central America, 
arriving in Cal. by the first steamer, and entered at once into the affairs of 
the country, being much interested in building up Sac., whose first mayor he 
was. It was greatly by his personal exertions that the town was saved dur 
ing the flood of 1849-50. Sac. Transcript, April 26, 1850. His course with the 
squatters was marked with charity and moderation even to a fault. S. F. 
Pacific News, Nov. 29, 1850. He was interred with military honors at Sac 
ramento. Culvers Sac. Ci y Directory, 74, 79; Shuck, Repres. Men, 936; Placer 
Times, April 6, 1850; Winans Statement, MS., 21. 

Besides the mayor, the city assessor, J. M. Woodland, was wounded mor 
tally, surviving but a few moments. Jesse Morgan was killed outright. On 
the squatter side, Maloney was killed, being shot by B. F. Washington, city 
recorder; Robinson was severely wounded, and another man killed, name not 
mentioned in any of the reports of the battle. J. H. Harper, of Mo., was 
severely wounded; Hale, of the firm of Crowell & Hale, was slightly 
wounded; and a little daughter of Rogers, of the firm of Burnett & Rogers, 
was slightly injured; total, 4 killed and 5 wounded. The bolt had fallen, 
and nothing more was to be seen than the ruins. Lieut-gov. McDougal now 
appeared upon the scene, his face very pale, and ordered all the men with 
arms to assemble at Fowler s hotel, after which he immediately left for S. F. 
by steamer. But not many went to the rendezvous, where a few men had 
mounted an old iron, ship s gun, on a wooden truck, which was loaded with 
scrap iron. That night about 60 volunteers were enrolled, under Capt. J. 
Sherwood, and remained at headquarters, near the corner of Front and L 
streets. A guard was set, of regular and special police, and men were chal 
lenged on the streets as if the city were under martial law. Robinson was 
carried to the prison ship on a bed. One Colfield, a squatter, was arrested 
and accused or killing Woodland. County Attorney McCune was brought 
into court, but his case postponed for the next day. Recorder Washington 
was placed by the city council at the head of the police, with authority to 
increase the force to 600; and the prest of the council, Demas Strong, as 
sumed the duties of mayor. Sac. Transcript, Aug. 15, 1850. On the follow 
ing day, after the burial of Woodland, Sheriff McKinney and a posse of 
about 20 men proceeded to Brighton, near Sutter s Fort, to attempt the arrest 
of a party of the squatters at a place which was kept by one Allen. The 
house was carefully approached after dark, the force being divided into three 
detachments, under Gen. Winn, a Mr Robinson, and the sheriff, who were to 
approach so as to surround the house. McKinney entered first, and went to 
the bar with his squad to call for drinks, in doing which he caught sight of 
8 or 10 armed men, whom he commanded to lay down their arms. They 
replied by a volley from their guns and pistols, and were answered by shots 
from the sheriff s party. All was confusion. McKinney had run out of the 
house after the attack, and stood near the door, when Allen deliberately shot 
him, and he fell, expiring in a few moments. Briarly then fired, wounding 
the assassin, who however sent another shot among the sheriff s party, grazing 
Crowell s arm, who returned the shot. The further immediate results of the 
battle were the killing of two squatters, M. Kelly and George W. Henshaw, 
the wounding of Capt Radford severely, and the injury of Capt. Hammersly 
by being thrown from his horse in the melee. Reinforcements being sent for 


the means of paying the liabilities already contracted, 
of defraying current expenses, or of completing her 

arrived during the night 10 men under Lundy and 12 under Tracy, who 
placed themselves under Gen. Winn. Four prisoners were taken, John 
Hughes, James R. Coffman, William B. Cornogg, and a man whose name is 
not given in any of the accounts of the squatter war. The arrival of the 
second party frightened to death Allen s wife, who was lying ill in the house. 
Allen escaped sorely wounded, and was traced next day to the river, where 
it was supposed he was drowned. Sac. Transcript Extra, Aug. 16, 1850. But 
he survived, suffering much, until, reaching a mining camp, he received assist 
ance. Moore s Pioneer Express, MS., 8-10. Great grief and indignation were 
felt over the death of Sheriff McKinney, who was generally esteemed. He 
had been but a short time married, and his wife was distraught with grief. 
P. F. Ewer, coroner, assumed the duties of sheriff and paid a visit to 
Brighton, arresting a man named Hall, who was found in hiding near Allen s 
house. Threats of lynching were made against the prisoners, but better 
counsels prevailed, and it was determined to abide by the laws. The steamer 
Senator had returned from S. F. on the night of the loth with the lieut-gov. 
and two companies of volunteers, namely, the California Guard, Capt. W. 
D. M. Howard, and Protection Engine Co., of the fire department, Capt. 
Shay, under arms, and together numbering 150 men. Connor, Early Cal,, 
MS., 6; S. F. Picayune, Aug. 16, 1850. There was no longer any need of 
their services, the squatter leaders being dead and wounded, and the citizens 
having resolved to leave their wrongs to be adjudicated by the courts. 

At this juncture the newspapers entered into a discussion of the merits of 
the cause on both sides. The Settlers and Miners Trilmne, of Oct. 30, 1850, in 
answering the S. F. Picayune of the 17th, says that it is wrong to condemn 
squatterism as the foundation of a party; for Sutterism in Upper California 
has too long despoiled her of her inheritance, and self-defence requires her 
interference. Immigrants expected to find public land, and found it; but 
* Sutterism has squatted all over it, and pretends to claim it under a Mexican 
grant which does not exist. The legislature was charged with making laws 
expressly to protect S utter, with or without a title to that part of the state. 
This charge was in reference to an act passed April 22, 1850, which forbade 
any forcible entry, the .penalty being a fine and restitution, if the justics 
should so order. No proof of title was required. Cal. Statutes, 1850, 425. In 
Cal., and in the Cal. sense, said the Tribune, legislators and judges were anti- 
squatter their decisions invariably anti-squatter; while if the squatters dif 
fered from them, and dared to appeal to the supreme court, they were said 
to have forfeited all support from the state govt, and even its protection. The 
unrecognized courts of Cal. were not the places where land titles should be 
determined. Squatterism was made a party issue because the natural and 
constitutional rights of the people were sought to be wrested from them by 
men of the stamp of the Picayune writers. When anti-squatterism ceases to 
prey, ftien the squatter party will cease to exist. Such were the utterances 
of the settlers after the Sac. affair, as well as before. But the Picayune had, 
soon after the riot, urged a calm and considerate review of the affair, and 
pleaded many things in extenuation of the course pursued by the squatters, ad 
vising the greatest moderation, mingled with firmness, which the adminis 
tration of justice requires. This, in point of fact, was the course into which 
the administration of law resolved itself. There was a good deal to be said 
on the side of the squatters, seriously as they had blundered. Robinson and 
the other prisoners, who were indicted by the grand jury for murder, were 
admitted to bail in Nov. A change of venue was obtained, and the cloud of 
indictments melted away like the last cloud-flake of our rainy season, as says 
Prof. Josiah Royce, who has ably presented the subject of the Sac. squatter 
riot in the Overland Monthly for Sept. 1885, as an example how Mexican 
grants were dealt with by American settlers iu Cal. YetT think he would 


organization and putting in operation her system of 
local government. Her securities, dismally depre- 

have found better illustrations elsewhere; for, as he himself shows, there was 
good ground in the belief of the squatters that the Alvarado grant did not 
extend to Sac., and in the fact that the Michel torena grant was actually in 
valid for the feeling of the squatters that Sutter was playing into the hands 
of a set of soulless speculators, who used the pretence of a grant for securing 
paper titles to the best portions of Cal. Accounts of the squatter troubles of 
1850 are contained in the newspapers of the day, particularly in the Sac. 
Transcript. See also the S. F. Cal. Courier, S. F. Pac. News, S. F. A Ita, 8. 
F. Picayune, and S. F. Herald, extending over a long period. There is an 
account of the riot in Sac. Illustrated, 13-18; Upliam, Notes, 333-51; in Cul 
ver s Sac. Directory, 78-9; in Thomas Directory Sac., 1871, 66-75; in Hist. Sac. 
Co., 50-6; and references in TutldWs Cal, 336-7; Sac. Bee, Nov. 1, 1871; 
Bauer s Statement, MS., 9? and Winans Statement, MS., 20-1. The theory 
has been advanced that to the riot of 1850 was due the great depression in 
business, and the numerous failures which followed. I think the conclusion 
erroneous. The population suddenly declined, but certainly not because peo 
ple were frightened away by an incident of this kind. It was the uncertainty 
of land titles in the vicinity which the squatter movement exposed. Had the 
squatters prevailed, the population would have remained, and the loss to a 
few individual lot-owners would have been far less than the whole community 
sustained by their defeat. S. F. Bulletin, Nov. 2, 1877. I do not wish to be 
understood as saying that the squatters were right. As the evidence after 
ward proved, they were in the wrong. But it would have been better for 
Sac. could they have maintained their position; for how could a city hope to 
prosper surrounded by a country to which no one could for a long time obtain 
a clear title? The courts finally decided that all the sales made by Burnett 
as Sutter s agent were valid. Could the founders of Sac. have foreseen the 
contention to arise out of the location of their city, the trouble might have 
been avoided. 

Squatters also gave trouble in S. F. in Jan. 1851, 8. F. Alta, Feb. 3, 1851, 
which continued for more than a year. Nathaniel Page commenced the erec 
tion of a building on a lot belonging to the Leidesdorff estate, and sold to 
Captain Folsom. A collision occurred, in which Folsom shot at Page, whose 
watch arrested the ball, and saved his life. Page s lumber was thrown into 
the bay. In April 1853 Sheriff W. W. Twist and posse of Santa Barbara 
were about to take possession of a cannon to use in ejecting a squatter named 
John Powers from the rancho Arroyo Burro, belonging to Hill and Den. A 
Californian, Alejo Servis, stabbed the sheriff, who turned and shot him dead. 
Firing then became general between the sheriff s party and the squatter 
party, and J. A. Vidall, a squatter, was killed. Hill and Den were placed 
in possession. S. F. Alta, May 7 and June 8, 1853. During this year there 
appeared to be something like an organized revival of squatterism. All about 
S. F., at the presidio and the mission, lots were settled upon without title. 
One of the public squares was treated as public domain. The Odd Fellows 
cemetery was seized, which two years before had been conveyed by deed to the 
society by Sam Brannan. On the 20th of July a squatter named McCarty, 
who had taken possession of a vacant lot on the corner of Second and Mission 
streets, belonging to Robert Price, resisted, and shot the sheriff who was at 
tempting to eject him; McCarty was also shot, both seriously; but Price was 
placed in possession. 

It was believed that an organization of wealthy men were at the bottom 
of the squatterism of 1853, who furnished means for carrying on the seizures 
of lots with a view to obtaining the lion s share. Attempts were made to 
squat on the Peralta claim in Alameda the same year. In June 1854 a pitched 
battle was fought between a party of squatters on Folsom s property on First 
street, S. F., and a party of 15 placed to defend it. George D. Smith was 


ciated, afforded slight compensation to those who were 
forced to receive them for services rendered. The 
effect on the cities and particularly on San Francisco 
was deplorable. Heir to lands worth millions of dol 
lars, she was practically bankrupt. Sales of lots were 
arrested by the doubt thrown upon her title ; or if any 
one took them, it was experimentally, at prices much 
below their value. A commissioner appointed to in 
quire into the extent and value of city property was, 
after a lengthy examination, unable to determine 
if there were any lands rightly belonging to the city, 
unless by preemption, which right congress had not 
yet extended to them. Had congress accorded the 
cities a relinquishment of the interests of the United 
States in the lands within their municipal juris 
dictions, it would greatly have simplified matters for 
them, and infinitely enhanced their resources. An 
other point of interest with the people was whether or 
not speculators should be permitted to buy up the public 
lands to which no shadow of a Mexican grant attached ; 
and this, it was insisted, was legitimate ground for a 

killed in this fight, and several persons wounded. After this affair the prop 
erty holders in S. F. organized, and 48 policemen were added to the force. 
Houses were fortified and besieged. In one house on Green street a woman 
holding a child in her arms was shot and killed. The occasion of this outbreak 
was that the title of the city of S. F. was undergoing examination by commis 
sioners; all kinds of rumors were afloat, and opportunities supposed to be 
afforded of securing lots. For several years more these troubles were recur 
ring. The Sac. Union of June 29, 1855, suggested as a remedy to fee no 
lawyers an excellent suggestion. Felice Argenti, sent by Brown Bros, 
bankers of Colon, to Cal. as their agent, in 1849 amassed a fortune of several 
millions, but his suits with S. F. for certain lands cost him the larger share 
of his wealth. Torres, Perip., 101-2. In 1856 was the famous case of the 
Green claim, when the vigilants arrested the holder of important documents 
concerning the city s title to the mission lands, on a trumped-up charge, in 
order to get possession of those documents, which Green himself had ob 
tained by trickery from Tiburcio Vasquez, and which he sold to his captors 
for $12,500, though he brought suit afterward for $50,000 damages, of which 
he obtained $150. Greens (A. A.) Life and Adv., MS. , 1-86. This manuscript 
of Green s, of about 90 pp., is a most interesting contribution to the literature 
of land titles, containing the history in detail of the Santillan claim. S. F. 
Alia, June 7 and 21, 1878. In 1858 a party of squatters in Sonoma county 
attacked and drove from his land one of the owners of the Peiias rancho, com 
pelling him to sign a release of his property to them. They almost captured 
the town of Healdsburg in an attempt to take Dr Fitch, another owner; and 
attacked the government surveyor Mandeville, destroying his papers. But 
such acts as these were performed by a few ruffians taking advantage of the 
squatter sentiment. S. F. Bulletin, Apr. 13, 1858. 


party in politics ground which California senators 
found themselves unable to ignore. 29 

The legislature adjourned April 22d. Congress 
had again disappointed the people. 27 In January, 
the California delegation had taken its departure for 
Washington to urge the claims of the state to be im 
mediately admitted. It was high time. In 1849 the 
citizens of San Francisco had banished the worst of 
its criminals. In 1850 a straw authority attempted 
to hold lawlessness in check, but it had attained such 
strength that years were afterward required to get it 
under control. In spite of these drawbacks a great 
deal had been accomplished. It was no small achieve 
ment for the American portion of the population in so 
short a time to have so regulated mining, the chief in 
dustry of the country, that a heterogeneous multitude 
from the four corners of the earth could work together 
in peace; and to so administer justice in the occupa 
tion of the mines that individuals and companies were 
willing to be governed by laws formed in mining 
camps. The general perfection of the rules adopted 
was such that neither congress nor the state legislature 
ever attempted to improve upon their essential fea 
tures. Thus good and evil grew side by side, while 
men longingly waited to catch the first whisper of the 
words "admitted to the union." 

The question of the admission of California had 
become the chief topic in congress ; and whenever the 
word California was pronounced close after came 
the word slavery. 7 All through 1849 the subject of 
providing a government for California was discussed, 
and at every point it was met by objections originat 
ing in a fear of disturbing the balance of power in 

26 Settlers and Miners Tribune, Oct. 30, 1850; Sac. Transcript, Nov. 29, 

27 Speaker Bigler in his valedictory address alluded to that most embar 
rassing question of domestic policy, which to his regret had kept Cal. out of 
the union. S. A Pac. News, Apr. 27, 1850; S. F. Herald, Oct. 22, 1850. 


the senate to the prejudice of slavery. The growth 
of the nation had reached that critical point when its 
affairs could no longer be safely referred to a sectional 
interpretation of the constitution; or the constitution 
being faulty, when the nation could no longer strictly 
abide by it; or when, conceding it to be a perfect in 
strument, one portion of the people refused to abide 
by it at the will of the other portion. The conces 
sions made to the slave states when the union was 
formed, on account of their weakness in population, 
and when the growth of slavery by importation and 
natural increase was not clearly foreseen, had placed 
the sceptre of political power in the hands of the 
south, where for thirty-eight years out of fifty it had 
remained. The profits derived from cotton-planting 
with slave labor had enabled the men of the south to 
abjure labor for themselves, to employ their leisure in 
congenial pursuits at home, in foreign education and 
travel, and in politics. Their senators in congress 
were men who assumed an air of nobility on account 
of their exemption from the cares of trade, whose 
habits on their plantations gave them a dictatorial 
manner, even in the society of their peers, that their 
generous culture could not always sufficiently soften ; 
and it was yearly more openly asserted that the ruling 
class in the United States was the planter class. 
Cotton was king; but a cotton manufacturer and a 
cotton-cloth seller were contemptible in the eyes of 
this pampered, self-constituted aristocracy. 

There was a middle class in the south, which aped 
all that was offensive in the manners of the cultivated 
class, and were loud in their praises of chivalry, and 
their scorn of northern mudsills. Even the poor 
white trash, which constituted a class despised even 
by the slaves, regarded the institution as something 
sacred, and a l southern gentleman as a being far 
above anything in the free states. So strong are the 
teachings of custom and prejudice ! 

Such a condition of society was not contemplated by 

HIST. CAL., VOL. VI. 22 


the framers of the constitution. It was opposed to 
the nature of the republican government, and soon or 
late must introduce discord. In 1846 that discord 
was already strongly apparent ; and the southern press 
did not conceal the fact that the south regarded itself 
as destined to have the mastery on the American 
continent. In congress, certainly, these boasts were 
sparingly alluded to; but they had their influence. 
Congressmen and senators talked about the rights of 
the two sections under the constitution. The acquisi 
tion of New Mexico and California, which the south 
had plotted and fought for, 28 had brought with it new 
issues and a determined struggle. It was a battle 
between intellectual giants for a cherished idea. 

Regarded from a sentimental stand-point, the sudden 
collapse of great expectations appeals to our sympathy, 
although the means resorted to in support of them 
may not command our confidence. The gaunt Caro 
linian, he of the burning eyes, pointing his fateful 
finger toward his adversary, and giving utterance to 
his fire-brand resolutions, is a striking spectacle. The 
polished and fiery Butler, pouring forth his reproaches 
against the faithless north, holds his audiences en 
chained. Berrien of Georgia, logical and impressive, 
commands breathless attention while he, too, arraigns 
the north for injustice. Foote of Mississippi, correct 
and impressive, never hasty, sometimes half insolent, 
but always attractive, sets forth the wrongs of the 
south. Toombs of Georgia, armed at every point 
with accusations against the north, and demands for 
restitution of rights that he declares have been wrested 
from the south, impresses us with his eloquence, and 

28 The Charleston Patriot said, referring to the Mexican war: We trust 
that our southern representatives will remember that this is a southern war. 
And thus the Charleston Courier: Every battle fought in Mexico, and every 
dollar spent there, but insures the acquisition of territory which must widen 
the field of southern enterprise in the future. And the final result will be to 
readjust the whole balance of power in the confederacy so as to give us con 
trol over the operations of the government in all time to come. If the south 
be but true to themselves, the day of our depression and suffering is gone for 
ever. Cong. Globe, 1846-7, 364; Id., 1849-50, 256. Others called it a south- 
em war fought by southern men. 


rouses us with the lash of his denunciation. These 
and more were the men the south sent to represent 
her in the national legislature; and against them was 
opposed the genius of Webster, Clay, Seward, Doug 
las, Benton, and the cumulative talent of the nation. 
To the fire of the south, the great Massachusetts sen 
ator opposed a collected front. " Times have changed," 
he said, "since the constitution was formed." 

The south complained that she had always been 
making concessions, and instanced the ordinance of 
1787, when it was agreed by Virginia that the north 
west territory surrendered by her should be free ter 
ritory; to which the north replied that God and nature 
had made that free territory, and slavery could not 
exist there, had there been no ordinance against it. 29 
The Missouri compromise of 1820 was called another 
concession by the south ; but the north contended that 
it was not an unfair division of the Louisiana purchase, 
and that the admission of Missouri as a slave state 
was allowed to balance the admission of Maine as a 
free state at the same time, and that one was as much 
a concession as the other. 

The Wilmot proviso, the south alleged, was aggress 
ive. It made the condition of furnishing money to 
buy Mexican territory this : that no part of the terri 
tory so purchased should be open to slavery. The 
north replied that the Mexican government had abol 
ished slavery in all its territory, and the United States 
would not reestablish it. The south declared that 
wherever the constitution of the United States went, 
slavery went with it. And on this ground, untenable 
as it appears to me, 30 the ship of state seemed likely 

29 For a history of the ordinance of 1787, see Cong. Globe, 1849-50, App., 
pt i. 599. 

30 Section 9 of article I. of the constitution says: The migration or im 
portation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper 
to admit, shall not be prohibited by congress prior to the year 1808, but a 
tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding $10 for each 
person. That is, congress would not interfere with slavery in the then slave 
states for that period of time. Section 2 of article IV. declares that no 
person held to service of labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping 
into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be dis- 


to be stranded. The Wilmot proviso was not adopted, 
and the money was paid. In so much the south tri 
umphed. But it was a barren victory ; because the 
moment that a government was demanded for the new 


territory, the conflict began concerning- the nature of 
it, and the principles of the Wilmot proviso were re 
vived, to be fought over for a period of nearly two 
years, during which time California had passed through 
the events already recorded in this and previous chap 

The news that California had formed for herself a 
free state government was ill received by southern 
men, who called it a northern measure, and felt them 
selves wronged. It was, they said, a whig manoeuvre, 
and due to the administration of Taylor, although in 
fact Riley, 31 on whom the opprobrium was heaped, 
was intrusted with the management of California 
affairs by the previous administration; while King,